Sudan: for revolution to triumph

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A bourgeoisie unable to unify the country

At the time of official independence (1956), the nascent Sudanese bourgeoisie divides itself politically between two options. One stakes on religion to dominate other classes; it is embodied in several movements: the Umma (born in 1945), hostile to Egypt, and also the Muslim Brotherhood of the Islamic Chart Front (ICF, today divided between the NCP and the PCP). The other one reckons on Arab nationalism that has the wind aft in neighbouring Egypt: the National Unionist Party (NUP, today DUP), the term “unionist” designating the initial will of the pro-Nasser party to unify Sudan and Egypt.

For want of a sufficient accumulation of capital at the national scale, the Sudanese bourgeoisie has difficulty in unifying at the scale of the whole country, in stabilising the State, in ensuring its hegemony over other social classes. The imperialist powers (foremost Great-Britain and the Unites States), the regional powers (Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran) and even neighbouring States (Eritrea, Chad, Ethiopia, Uganda …) interfere in the political life and contribute to the balkanisation of the country. More than elections and the parliament, the military coups and popular uprisings will punctuate the political life of the country.

Can the working class compensate for the historical failure of the bourgeoisie? The party at the disposal of the proletariat on the independence, the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), is one of the most important workers’ parties in Africa. It is present in both the South and the North. It leads the young working class, in particular of the railways, it influences a great number of farmers, students, intellectuals, soldiers and officers. But, despite the name “communist”, it is in fact Stalinist, Menshevik. It has no confidence in the working class. It subordinates the proletariat to the petty bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie in the name of “the unity of the driving forces of the nation”, the “union of the working class, the peasantry, the national bourgeoisie, the progressive intellectuals” (SCP, January 1, 1956).

1989: the putsch of sheikh Turabi and colonel Bashir

In 1989, colonel Omar Al-Bashir overthrows the Al-Mahdi government and takes power with the help of the NIF. He proclaims an Islamic State, forbids political parties and independent trade unions (the confederation SWTUF becomes an appendix of the State). The NIF massively purges the army, the police and the civilian administration. It establishes a single party, an Islamist one, the National Congress Party (NCP).

In 2003, the regime decides then to maintain Darfur by force within its borders, with the same methods as in Southern Sudan before. As the army does not show itself very aggressive, it pays and equips “Arab” militias named Janjawids. The conflict has caused to this day 300 000 deaths et 2,5 million displaced people.

In 2011, the partition between North and South takes place. Southern Sudan inherits the greatest part of oil deposits (between 70 % et 80 %). In January 2016, Sudan breaks with Iran. It gets close to Egypt and the Gulf monarchies. Saudi Arabia sells fuel at a low price and loans one billion dollars (about 900 million euros); in return, Sudan supports the invasion of Yemen and provides troops, mainly militias. The United States lift their sanctions in October 2017.

China is the main provider of Sudan and the main investor. The single party NCP invites the single party of China, the CCP, to its congress of 2017. It sends executives to be educated at the training school of Chinese high-ranking officials, the Pudong University (Shanghai).

2018: the beginning of a revolution

The GDP goes down 2.3 % in 2018. The trade deficit grows despite clandestine exports of gold. Inflation is at least 70 %. 70 % of budget expenses are allocated to forces of repression (secret services, among which NISS, militias reconverted into RSF, traditional army …).

On December 19, 2018 the Sudanese government announces, among other measures, the tripling of the price of bread. The very next day, the population, among which many women, demonstrates. This uprising fits into ongoing democratic struggles in Angola, in Ethiopia, in Gambia and foremost in Algeria. The demonstrations are organised by a petty bourgeois structure, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) that regroups engineers, lawyers, physicians, academics … The repression is violent: arrests, beatings, shootings on the crowd by the NISS and the Islamist militias RSF. The outcome is 90 arrested journalists, 9 women sentenced to whipping for inappropriate behaviour, 800 sentences to long-term imprisonment and at least 60 deaths.

But the masses, at the end of four months of sacrifices, tip conscripts and non-commissioned officers. Some protect them against the exactions of the political police: on April 8, soldiers confront a “Rapid Support Force” (the RSF of colonel Daglo called “Hemetti”). Forms of self-organisation appear in neighbourhoods. Revolution starts.

The ruling class prepares since long alternative bourgeois solutions with the help of the western imperialist bourgeoisies. On the one hand, the political police and the army staff are ready to sacrifice the fuse Bashir (as their counterparts have ousted Bouteflika in Algeria), solution to which China also resigns itself. On the other hand, bourgeois political parties (DUP, Umma, PCP…) integrate into their alliances and their strategy of defence of capitalism and safeguard of the bourgeois State the militant organisation of the petty bourgeoisie, the SPA, and the only workers’ party, the SCP.

This national union is named Forces of Declaration of Freedom and Change (FDFC). On January the 1st, it publishes its programme. It is not even democratic: there is no question of an elected government, but of a civilian government leading the country for 4 years without consulting the population that is sent unarmed to confront the regime.

The SPA, while it organises the demonstrations, begs the army staff to oust Bashir and preaches pacifism to the masses. Workers and employees act as their troops, since they do not have their own, independent (truly communist) organisation. The “Communist” Party that had already set up a popular front with the political debris of pan-Arabism and even the Umma, aligns itself totally on the petty bourgeoisie and even the big one.

The secretariat of the Central Committee of the Sudanese CP launched two appeals on December 31 and January the 1st, calling for continued mass actions, based on the unity of opposition forces and around their declared demand: the overthrow of the regime, its dismantling and liquidation … Furthermore, it called on the masses to stay firm and to unite around their aspirations for a bright future founded on equality, the rule of law and the independent participation of workers to the decision process and to the implementation. It affirmed its attachment to the principles contained in the democratic alternative adopted by the opposition. (SCP, January 8, 2019)

On April 11, a junta called Transitional Military Council (TMC) dismisses Bashir, frees demonstrators and imprisoned opponents, and takes power for 2 years. At its head, general Burhan is one of the leaders of repression in Darfur; Hemetti is number 2. China recognises immediately the TMC.

The “Communist” Party preaches pacifism and attempts to prevent the proletarian class struggle.

The SCP and all opposition forces carry on their revolution until the establishment of a civilian government that represents the masses and implements the democratic alternative programme accepted by all forces. (SCP, April 12, 2019)

On April 27, the FDFC and the TMC announce a compromise for a mixed transitional government, composed of civilian bourgeois and of officers. On May 13, armed gangs, probably the officially dissolved NISS and the RSF, more powerful than ever, attack demonstrators. On May 15, the TMC and the FDFC publish an agreement to put power for 3 years in the hands of a Council of Sovereignty, unelected, composed of 67 % from the FDFC.

2019: for permanent revolution

The fundamental freedoms must be conquered by workers and serve for the working class to take the lead of the masses, to build organs of soviet type, to disarm the NISS and the RSF, to undermine the bourgeois army and to win soldiers, with their weapons, to the cause of revolution. The combination of political and social demands of the working class, of working farmers, of minor civil servants, of students, of conscripts, etc., will raise the question of the taking of power by workers.

To lead revolution to victory, the workers’ and students’ vanguard must organise itself, in connection with proletarian revolutionaries of the region and of the whole world, in a workers’ party independent of imperialism, of the bourgeois State, of capitalist parties, whether they are Arab nationalists or Islamists, a party of the Bolshevik type.

  • Democratic freedoms! Separation of State and religion! Effective banning of genital mutilation of girls! Legal equality for women! Respect of national and religious minorities! Right of oppressed peoples to separate or to join Southern Sudan!
  • Reconstruction and development of the rail network! Public health and education services, free and secular! Nationalisation without compensation or buying back of all privatised enterprises! Cancel the debt of Bashir to the IMF! Workers’ control over enterprises! Nationalisation of banks under workers’ control! Expropriation of town ground and of big estates, cheap credit and equipment for working farmers, encouragement to agricultural cooperatives!
  • Self-defence of demonstrations! Dissolution of the Central Police Reserve, of the Rapid Support Forces and of the professional army!
  • Breaking off of labour unions and the SCP with the bourgeoisie! Councils of waged workers, of poor farmers, of soldiers and students! Down with the TMC junta! Workers’ and farmers’ government resting on councils and the armament of workers! Socialist Federation of East Africa!

May 16, 2019