Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 June 2019

Sudan: The revolution under threat

Nearly two months after the overthrow of the former dictator Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 years, the struggle between revolution and counterrevolution has entered a critical stage as Tony Saunois, CWI secretary, explains.
Workers fraternised with soldiers when hardliners in Sudan were preparing a crackdown in April, photo M Saleh/CC

Workers fraternised with soldiers when hardliners in Sudan were preparing a crackdown in April, photo M Saleh/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Mass protests against the former dictator began in December 2018. He was removed by the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to try to contain the developing revolutionary movement. While al-Bashir is gone, the regime he led has until now largely been left intact. This has driven the mass movement back onto the streets in opposition to the continued rule by the TMC.

In order to try and reassert its rule, the TMC, especially its most repressive component, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), unleashed a vicious crackdown. Now access to the internet has been cut.

Although the internet and social media can play an important role in organising social protests and struggle, it is not a replacement for the need for organisation, political parties, trade unions, action committees and other forms of organisation by the working class.

The shutting down of the internet by the TMC is an answer to those who have argued that organisation and parties are no longer needed in this 'digital age' to organise a struggle to transform society.


The bloodiest attack was the brutal repression on 10 June of a mass protest camp in the centre of the capital, Khartoum. At least 120 people were reportedly killed and others suffered beatings, rape, torture and violent assaults.

The bloody slaughter was carried out by the RSF whose leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemeti, is the deputy head of the TMC. The RSF, a brutal paramilitary force, was established in 2013 under the former dictator al-Bashir. Its origins can be traced to the tribal Janjaweed militia, which earned its reputation for mass killings, rape and torture during the war in Darfur, western Sudan, over a decade ago.

It was in response to the latest massacre that a general strike involving millions has taken place. It involved workers, sections of the middle class and the poor.

Despite having many features of what in India is known as a 'hartal', which involves support for a strike by sections of business and movements in the countryside, it revealed the potential strength of the working class.

The social weight of the general strike illustrated the potential for the working class, together with the middle class and others exploited by capitalism, not only to challenge and defeat the TMC but also capitalism and landlordism in Sudan.

Trade unions

The strike reflected one of the gains of the revolutionary movement in the beginning of forging a unified movement, and the building of unions or workers reclaiming some of the already established official trade unions which existed under the dictatorship.

This includes sections of the radicalised middle layers in society, like the Democratic Lawyers Alliance, the Sudanese Central Doctors Committee and others, who have come together in the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA). They have adopted some methods of struggle of the working class.

These layers have linked together with some public sector workers. In other sections of the working class we have seen workers move to wrest control of the

official trade unions which existed under the old regime. They seek to remove those official union leaders who had collaborated with the al-Bashir regime.

At the same time, there has been the formation of local neighbourhood committees. These seem to have now become the main vehicle for the organisation of opposition to the regime.

These committees could have the potential to develop further into becoming real organs of struggle. They could possibly develop and evolve to become an alternative potential power to the regime and existing state machine.

The Sudanese masses have a strong tradition of workers' struggle. In the past, a powerful Communist Party existed, which was founded in 1946. It lost much of its base following its entry into a coalition government in 1969.

A split took place during a failed attempted coup in 1971, when a wing of the Communist Party supported it. However, the relatively strong traditions of the working class are reflected in the current movement.

The recent developments have terrified the Sudanese ruling class and the regime. It has provoked alarm among the capitalist class throughout Africa and internationally. The capitalist class can see the potential danger which exists for them, with the emergence of a powerful independent workers' movement.

The recent deployment of representatives of the ruling class from the African Union and Ethiopia to Sudan reflects the fear they have of losing control of the situation.

US imperialism was prepared to leave it to the regional powers, like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, to intervene to defend their own vested interests. However, reflecting the fears of US imperialism, the White House belatedly sent an 'envoy' to Sudan.

They hope to act as a restraining influence on the TMC and possibly attempt to secure an agreement for a transition to a coalition. This would involve the current regime and those representatives of the opposition which pose no threat to the ruling class. However, such a prospect is not going to result in the establishment of a stable Sudanese capitalist government, whatever forces are involved.

The umbrella opposition leaders, organised in the Forces of Freedom and Change (FDFC), includes not only the SPA but also pro-capitalist opposition parties, like the National Umma Party and the Sudanese Congress Party. The role of such forces, as in any revolutionary movement, is to act as a brake on the movement, keep it within the confines of capitalism, and derail it.

If the revolution is to advance and defeat the threat of counter revolution, no trust can be placed in these pro-capitalist parties. The working class needs to urgently build its own mass workers' party, which unfortunately does not exist at this stage.

Pro-capitalist opposition

The real role of the pro-capitalist parties and groupings in the FDFC was reflected in April when they tried to reach a negotiated settlement with al-Bashir, as part of their opposition to the Sudanese masses expressing themselves through early elections. Now it has been repeated during the recent general strike and civil protests, which terrified them as much as it did the regime and international capitalism.

The strike was seen by the pro-capitalist parties and groupings as a form of protest to be called off as soon as possible. The stoppage was not followed by calls to extend the strike indefinitely, with the objective of overthrowing the regime.

Workers and supporters of the strike were wrongly urged to stay at home rather than come onto the streets in a mass demonstration of strength in preparation to confront and overthrow the regime. After only 72 hours the strike was called off and negotiations re-opened. Such steps can only serve to eventually demobilise the masses and prepare the way for a betrayal and victory of the counterrevolution.

To take the revolution forward and overthrow the regime, a plan of struggle needs to be prepared and urgently carried through. The neighbourhood committees need to be strengthened rapidly and built into really democratic organs of struggle.

Delegates need to be democratically elected to them from the workplaces and the local neighbourhoods and subject to recall. These then need to link up on a district, city-wide, regional and national basis.

It is urgent to take steps to organise armed defence committees and a militia under the democratic control of the neighbourhood committees.

As in all revolutions, the mass movement has already provoked divisions among the ruling class and within the TMC.

According to some reports, there are already splits between the RSF and the regular Sudanese Army. Should the revolution and the working class not take the necessary steps to advance, there is the real prospect of a collapse into conflict and clashes between the rival military and paramilitary forces.

The splits which have begun to open between the RSF and the army are not an accident. They reflect the social pressure felt on the rank and file of the army which is drawn from the working class and poor.

A bold appeal needs urgently to be made to the rank and file soldiers to break from the TMC and their commanding officers, and to support the workers and poor in a revolutionary movement to transform Sudan.

Rank-and-file committees of the soldiers need to be formed and carry through a purge of reactionary officers and to elect replacements.

A defence militia of the working class and poor could be armed, if the rank-and-file soldiers can be won to the side of the revolution.

General strike

But for this to happen, the soldiers must be convinced that the workers and revolutionary movement can go forward and overthrow the old regime. The mass movement must therefore demonstrate its strength, determination and confidence by calling an indefinite general strike and the formation of democratically elected committees of action.

These, if linked up on a city-wide, regional and national basis, can form the basis for a revolutionary government of the workers, the poor and all those exploited by capitalism.

Such a revolutionary government could then enact a programme that would include:

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 19 June 2019:

What we think

While the Tories elect a new leader - prepare action to remove the lot of them


Welsh government must block NHS privatisation or face workers' action

Council cuts continue while reserves rise

Cancer stats reveal deep inequality

Them & Us

Climate change

Stop climate change - fight for socialist change

What way forward to tackle climate change?

Workplace news

Trade union action can end low pay

Schools unions must turn anger into a fight against funding catastrophe

Unite must be at the head of fighting for a general election and against council cuts

South Western Railway staff strike for safety

Ford Bridgend workers vote to fight to save threatened plant

Bluestar bus drivers' strike over pay

East London bin workers call 12-day strike over wage grades

Swansea Parcelforce workers picket depot in support of victimised rep

Harrogate academy workers strike against closure

International socialist news and analysis

Chinese regime's puppet government in Hong Kong pushed back by mass protests

Sudan: The revolution under threat

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Angry Barking residents' meeting demands answers and action following fire

Orgreave injustice - 35th anniversary march and rally

Oppose big business's sphere of influence!

Young Socialists - re-establishing Rhondda's fighting traditions

North Shields: second march and rally to #SaveOurBridge

Newton Abbot says no to Tory privatisation of the NHS!

Worcester: Building on our successful library campaign


Defend free TV licences for over-75s!

The Socialist Inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 19 June 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleWest London Socialist Party: Sudan - overthrow the regime - forward to socialism!

triangleSudan masses mobilise against state repression

triangleSudan solidarity protests

triangleBirmingham South West Socialist Party: Sudan - Revolution or Counter Revolution?

triangleSudan: Military crackdown to break revolution


triangleCuba: Covid-19 and the 60-year-old embargo

triangle100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain

triangleReform or revolt? How was the slave trade abolished?

triangleThe Spanish Flu of 1918 and how it "fanned the flames of revolt"


triangleNHS workers demand improved pay - 15% for all now!

triangleOppose BT site closures - national strike ballot needed

triangleCampaign stalls on jobs, pay, NHS and racism

Working class:

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Class struggle and the role of the working class in changing society

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Labour - time for a new party for the working class


triangleIran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes


triangleAnniversary of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Tony Saunois:

triangleNew pamphlet: constituent assemblies and the revolutionary programme


triangleCWI rally: 80 years since the murder of Leon Trotsky





Revolutionary mood in Lebanon following horrific explosion



Cuba: Covid-19 and the 60-year-old embargo


Nuclear weapons

Anniversary of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki



Iran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes



Israel: Nurses strike and win


Hong Kong

Hong Kong: The fight for democratic rights


South Africa

South Africa: Building jobs and living wage campaign



France: 20,000 rally against Paris's killer gendarmes



Black and white youth rise up against racism - US protester speaks to the Socialist



USA - another cop killing of unarmed black man sparks widespread protests



Outrage spreads globally following US police murder of George Floyd


Hong Kong

Chinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests



Economic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon



Trump, coronavirus, capitalism, and the presidential race



India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020