Jun 10, 2019
On Monday, June 3rd, the Sudanese military and police violently dispersed a public assembly that had continued day and night in Khartoum, the capital. At least 60 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded.
For weeks, the military figures who replaced Omar al Bashir in power have had to put up with this ongoing meeting where thousands came, sometimes from far away, to discuss the future of their movement. After forcing the heads of the military to throw out the dictator, the demonstrators demanded a civilian government. The heads of the military then had to open negotiations with the coalition of the opposition parties: the Alliance for Freedom and Change, and the Association of Sudanese Professionals, who have organized the movement on the ground since December.
The heads of the military have clearly shown that they intend to hold on to power and organize the “post-Omar al Bashir” country as they like. They have called for a “sovereign Council,” which would have the military leading the country for three years before holding elections. The civilian opposition called for a general strike for May 28th and 29th. That strike paralyzed the banks, transportation, hospitals, and commerce, and saw wide participation, despite the intervention of the Rapid Support Forces. These Forces are in fact the former Janjaweed, the militia that had been recruited to sow terror in Darfur before being integrated into Omar al Bashir’s repressive apparatus. The Janjaweed forced their way into banks on strike and electrical power generating stations in Khartoum, but they did not succeed in forcing strikers back to work.
The following Friday, May 31st, the military organized a counter-demonstration to shore themselves up. They brought thousands from the countryside to Khartoum to chant “all power to the military”, and “all power to Islam.” They thought their “moment” had ended the popular movement which placed them under pressure. At the dispersal of the assembly, the repressive forces put on display all the kinds of violence of which they are capable.
The leaders of the popular movement immediately called for a general strike and civil disobedience. The last word has not been spoken. The demonstrators have learned of struggle and organization over months of battle, first against the increasing price of bread, then against Omar al Bashir’s regime, and finally to continue to express themselves and to fight. They have become conscious of their power, a power that the military repression has not yet defeated.