Sudan: End military rule and poverty – fight for genuine ‘People’s Power’ in Sudan

Build a genuine revolutionary socialist party

Sudan's masses have continued to resist the coup of 25 October

Sudan’s masses have continued to resist the coup of 25 October

Mass protests across Sudan have continued in response to the recent sell-out deal between Abdalla Hamdok – the deposed former civilian Prime Minister appointed by the overthrown Sovereignty Council government – and the military tops led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Under the deal Hamdok was released from house arrest, where he had been detained following the 25 October military coup, and reinstated as Prime Minister under a new military regime that says it will restore civilian democratic rule at some unspecified future date.

Nick Chaffey, Socialist Party national committee, reports on the resistance to the coup, and what political programme can achieve a genuinely democratic Sudan that eradicates repression, poverty and inequality.

Continuing demands for ‘Power to the people’ show this mass movement is determined to end the rule of the military, and is angered at the betrayal of Hamdok in willingly acting for the military.

This mass opposition of workers and youth across Sudan has forced other parties such as Umma, the Sudan Professional Association (SPA) and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), previously involved in the governing council, to echo the streets with a rejection of the deal.

The mass protests across Sudan have been organised by the Resistance Committees (RCs). They have been at the forefront of mobilising the revolution since 2019 and were involved in vital community work before and after the fall of former dictator Omar al-Bashir.

Under mass pressure, the 25 October coup leaders have been forced to retreat behind the fig leaf of a Hamdok government. They overestimated their power to repress the revolutionary movement organised by the RCs.

The United Nations and the imperialist governments of the US and UK, along with the Norwegian government, are now attempting to pressure all opposition forces to accept the new Hamdok regime installed by the military.

This must be firmly rejected. Their aim is to strangle the revolution. Only an independent movement of the masses, of the workers and poor, can establish a new revolutionary government and real ‘people’s power’.

Statements from protesters indicate that the masses have lost their fear of the regime and understand there can be no compromise. They are determined to end military rule with a democratic, civilian government.

The discussion across society, and especially those in the forefront of leading the protests, is how can that be achieved?

Only a new government of the masses, of the workers and poor, based on the developing movement led by the Resistance Committees, can end military rule and open up the prospect of a new revolutionary democracy in Sudan to end oppression, poverty and tribal conflict.

Resistance committees

Despite the resources of the army and their brutal militias, the independent mass movement in the streets is demonstrating its potential power to end the rule of the military.

It is essential that the RCs develop if they are to play a decisive role in the struggle for power. Part of this is to learn from the experience of some ‘leaders’ being prepared to sit alongside the military tops. This shows the importance of all representatives being both regularly elected, and subject to immediate recall by those who have elected them.

These bodies can become the democratic forum around which discussion can be developed on how to build the movement, and defend the protests and activists from repression. They can outline and help the implementation of the programme of a new government that addresses the issues of poverty, jobs, housing, health and education. But such a government needs to be completely different from all previous ones.

The building of new workplace and community organisations, electing their own representatives, is not just a sign of the developing mass movement. Most importantly, it shows the potential to create, alongside the RCs, a genuine ‘people’s power’, the basis for a new democratic government that represents the interests of the workers and poor.

Clearly, such a new government would have to remove the threat of future military repression and counter-revolution, and deal with the urgent economic, social, and political issues facing the mass of Sudanese.

Popular defence

While the military has been forced to retreat, arrests and suppression continue. So long as the military remains in place, a new repressive clampdown is certain, unless the mass movement succeeds in carrying through the revolution.

Popular defence forces need to be developed, forces democratically controlled through the Resistance Committees and other popular bodies. Such defence forces would need to be able to both act and, at the same time, exploit divisions within the state and militia forces.

Throughout the revolution, the army has also shown some critical weaknesses. Divisions have developed within the tops of the army over how to deal with the revolution; whether to step up repression or to make concessions and who will come to dominate in a new regime. It is clear that tensions exist between different wings of the army and militias, which could come to the fore as the situation escalates.

As the masses poured onto the streets in the 2019 revolution which overthrew Bashir, lower ranks in the army in significant numbers came over to the side of the protests or remained passive when called on to shoot at demonstrators.

An appeal to the lower ranks of the army to join the revolution and carry out a purge of the army by arresting the coup plotters and officers would gain a big echo. The lower ranks, who share none of the riches held by the tops of the army, come from the poorest sections of Sudanese society and can be won over to the revolution. Then, electing their own representatives, they could join the RCs and assist with the defence of demonstrations, factories, trade unions and activists.

The use of militias under the guidance of some of the army tops is also a threat that needs addressing. These militias have been built by recruiting young children and criminals, desperate for food and shelter, maintaining them through regular payments.

Other rebel forces and their leaders have been drawn to the military by promises of sharing in the economic spoils of the military regime.

Support for these militias can be undermined by a programme for a new Sudan that ends repression but also can meet the needs of all.

A revolutionary socialist Sudan would also put an end to the repression of religious and ethnic minorities and guarantee the rights of all, including the right to self-determination, thereby undermining the support for separatist rebel and tribal leaders and the basis of their militias.

It is unclear how events will unfold, but already the outline of how this movement could take power can be seen. The military and pro-capitalist parties that have propped up the ruling council have been undermined and are divided on the way forward.

National assembly

If the RCs elected representatives to a national body, calling for trade unions to send delegates and lower ranks of the army to elect their own delegates as well, the outline of a new civilian government of the workers and poor would be in place.

Only such a government could guarantee that the Sudanese people could freely decide their future; any interim government which based itself on retaining the essentials of Sudan today, namely the repressive state and capitalism, would be a smokescreen for the ruling class to continue in power.

Decisive action in the form of an indefinite general strike needs to be prepared, alongside the dissolution of the Sovereign Council and Hamdok’s new ‘technocratic’ government. Military and militia leaders should be arrested. The power of the National Resistance Assembly should then be consolidated by establishing a democratically run and controlled RC militia, drawn from the ranks of the RCs to defend the new government.

In power, what kind of measures would be necessary to establish the aims of a new Sudan?

With the economy and government budget in the hands of the military, up to 80% of the budget ends up in the hands of the military tops, with the remainder unable to meet the costs of providing food, fuel, housing and healthcare to the masses.

All the assets and business interests of the military tops must be immediately confiscated and nationalised.

The accumulated wealth of Sudan should be placed under the direct control of the revolutionary government through the nationalisation of the banks, mines, and foreign-owned corporations that dominate the economy, with compensation based only on proven need. It would be the basis on which a democratic plan could be drawn up through the local RCs to address the needs of all, and provide the basis for an end to the poverty and insecurity of the masses.

The transformation of the economy on socialist lines is the only way to meet the needs of the masses and break the power of the military and the elites in Sudan.

Such bold measures would inspire solidarity from workers, the youth and poor across North Africa, the rest of Africa, and beyond, support that could help prevent any attempts at military intervention, sanctions or blockades, etc, from pro-capitalist governments.

It would be a revolutionary government that would reignite the ‘Arab Spring’ and have an impact within Africa, with a revolutionary democratic socialist model to follow. This could become the basis for a socialist confederation of the region that could rapidly utilise the wealth, resources and productive potential to develop the economy through democratic planning to transform society.

Debate on the way forward in Sudan is reaching all corners of society. But this revolutionary movement of workers, youth and the poor has no party of its own.

Mass socialist party

While the Communist Party has opposed the military, it has not provided a clear programme of action to take power, despite its rich history. It has not drawn on the historic revolutionary experience of the working class, especially the lessons of the Russian revolution, encapsulated in the writings and actions of its leaders, Lenin and Trotsky, and the Bolshevik Party that led the successful struggle for power in October 1917.

Instead, its leaders follow the exact opposite of Lenin’s approach in 1917, as they seek alliances and coalitions with capitalist forces which will lead to the trapping and eventual defeat of revolution.

But an independent revolutionary party is a vital element in the current situation. Such a party would grow very rapidly in the favourable situation that currently exists. Without it, there is the grave danger that this revolutionary opportunity will be lost.

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The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) is the international socialist organisation which the Socialist Party is affiliated to. The CWI is organised in many countries. We work to unite the working class and oppressed peoples against capitalism, and to fight for a socialist world.