Africa has witnessed many transformative events in the past decade. Among these, a people-led movement in Sudan that has overthrown a dictator in 2019 will undoubtedly take the cake.
The country has been under the ironclad rule of General Omar al-Bashir for over 30 years. The regime which came in power after a military coup in 1989, used strong arm tactics to control a nation of the diverse group of people. Furthermore, the 30 years long repressive military rule had overpowered every institution that promoted the cause of human rights. It also empowered the conservative Islamic leadership that had put harsh restrictions on women.
The regime of Omar al-Bashir was fiercely opposed by the Western countries while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were its heavyweight backers. It had to grapple with people led movements throughout its existence which also included a full blown insurgency movement in Darfur region. However it was able to put down any challenge through brutal force.
The people's movement to overthrow General Omar al-Bashir started in December of 2018 had such inclusiveness which was not witnessed in the earlier movements. It was powered by all the classes and ethnicities in posh as well as the poorest of neighbourhoods. Some adrenaline-fuelled women leaders encouraged other women to participate in the protests which not only increased the diversity of the people fighting for the nation but also helped to keep the movement non-violent. It also had the youth power which was yearning for a better future for them and their country.
The mobilization of millions of citizens on the streets forced the government to block the internet throughout the country for weeks. With online communication difficult to make, the protestors started using old ways to mobilise, such as megaphones, graffiti all over the streets and crowd-pulling events like a community service day. This included clearing trash areas in clothing that promoted their movement saying: ‘We will build what we are dreaming of.’
The protesters demanding civilian rule were met by violence which caused death and injury, many of which were caused by gunshot wounds. However people didn't relent and continued to protest. Huge protests were organised to correspond with the 30th anniversary of the coup that helped bring Bashir to power. The nation was ready to make people’s revolution happen and was ready to pay the cost.
After the relentless protest, General Omer Al Bashir, who ruled with the backing of the military, was finally overthrown by the military in April 2019. However the people were not ready to accept another military ruler to replace the earlier one. So the people's movement continued till the military leadership relented to disband the Transitional Military Council and in its place an eleven-member Sovereign Council was constituted in November 2019.
The Sovereign Council, made up of the six civilians and five military representatives, is mandated to rule Sudan and conduct a free & fair election in the next three years. Amongst the civilian council members nominated by the protest movement, there is a woman and a journalist. This in itself is a great step forward for the long oppressed citizens of Sudan.