4 Jul 2019

After Sudan’s Million March: What comes next?

After the brutal crackdown on the protesters on June 3, the streets in Khartoum were relatively quiet. But on June 30, the protesters demanding change and calling for the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to cede power to a civilian government again flooded the streets of Sudan’s capital with their Million March.

Munzoul Assal, professor at the University of Khartoum and participant in the joint CMI/UiB/University of Khartoum research programme ARUS, briefly updates us on the role of neighbourhood committees and the chances that the TMC will concede to the opposition Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) in negotiations.

-What happened that made people come back to the streets?

June 30 is the day Bashir took power in a military coup 30 years ago. The demonstrations were organized in such a way that they would coincide with that date; sending a message to the TMC that "do not even think about repeating what Bashir did". Another reason why people took to the streets after the massacre of June 3 is that they wanted to tell the TMC that the massacre will not scare us off and that we will continue our fight until a civilian government is in place.

-With the internet shut down, how have the protesters managed to keep the information flowing and come together?

The internet has been down since June 3, but people have kept the flow of information through mobile text messages (SMS). Importantly, the protesters are also operating through what they call "Neighbourhood Committees" that work at the grassroots levels. These committees are very effective and trustworthy, and they communicate news and protest plans to the people at the neighbourhood levels. People also print and distribute small papers and flyers that contain information.

-With reports that leading opposition figures have been arrested, who is now coordinating the protests?

Not so many of the leading figures have been arrested, at least not the key FFC leaders or negotiating team. The FFC is aware of the threat of arrests and operate through what they call "horizontal leadership" which makes it difficult for the security people to arrest "leaders", as in this type of leadership, any member is a leader! So far the FFC is able to coordinate its work and the protests.

-Are there any signs that the TMC will cave in?

Well, not really! Personally I think TMC members are scared, especially after the June 3 massacre. They fear that if FFC dominates the government, members of the TMC might be brought to justice since any independent investigation committee will likely find them guilty of authorizing the sit-in massacre. So maybe the TMC will be looking for some sort of an exit and I am not sure how far the FFC is ready to provide for such an exit!