It is the countryside, not Khartoum, that is now leading the political struggle for Sudan’s future.

by Reem Abbas

Beitrag auf Al Jazeera 28.01.2019

Anders als in den Revolutionen von 1964 und 1985 steht bei den Massenprotesten, deren Geschichte seit dem 19. Dezember zusammengefasst wird, diesmal nicht Khartoum im Mittelpunkt. Er ging nicht von den Intellektuellen und den Eliten aus. Der Aufstand begann in der Peripherie und breitete sich über das ganze Land aus.

Einen Grund sieht die Autorin in der Bevorzugung der Hauptstadt bei der Verteilung der Ressourcen:

The economic situation got particularly bad in 2018. By then Sudan had racked up $50bn in debt and its allies refused to give it more hand-outs. In the first months of the year, petrol and diesel almost completely disappeared from the market. People were unable to get their savings from banks or any cash from ATMs. By the summer, long queues for bread stretched across the country.

The situation in the countryside was much worse, as the government was eager to make economic deterioration less visible in its capital. It worked hard to provide fuel and wheat for Khartoum and often times this meant slashing the rations of other states.

The countryside has been marginalised for far too long. The South Sudanese fought a war for 21 years (1983-2005), angered by their status as second-class citizens. Then in 2003, the people of Darfur started their fight against economic inequality, injustice and ethnic discrimination. Conflicts continue to rage in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, where the central government has also failed to develop the local economy and recognise local residents as equal citizens.

For decades, power, wealth and opportunities have been monopolised by privileged ethnic groups and concentrated in the central part of the country, particularly in the capital city, which boasts the best infrastructure and services in Sudan.

Sitting in the posh neighbourhoods of Khartoum, these political elites now feel threatened by the revolutionary wave sweeping the country. Misjudging the situation, they kept the overwhelming majority of their security forces in the capital, to protect their power, wealth and families.

The uprising in the countryside took them by surprise and now their forces are stretched thin. They have scrambled to control the situation by mobilising troops, particularly the border patrol and the Rapid Response Forces, a militia previously used in Darfur. But even they are not going to be enough to quell the protests which have spread across the country to its most remote parts.

Bedeutsam scheint auch, dass der in den Eliten Kartoums grassierende Rassismus gegenüber Menschen aus Darfur bei den Aufständischen nicht verfängt: „Wir sind alle Darfur“.

During the first week of the protests, the authorities, in a much-expected move, arrested dozens of students who hail from Darfur and accused them of being saboteurs and part of a rebel group. These spurious accusations did not sway public opinion, as the protest movement fought it successfully and responded by chanting „You arrogant racist, we are all Darfur!“.

This is now one of the most popular slogans used by Darfuri and non-Darfuri protesters alike across the country, from Gadarif to Khartoum. The struggle of Darfuris who, for the last 15 years, have suffered in refugee camps and at the hands of militias is finally taking centre-stage. And so is the struggle of all other dispossessed, impoverished and marginalised people across the country.

„Sudan’s protests: The revolt of the periphery“