by David Hemson
After months of extraordinary struggle involving all Sudanese towns and regions, an agreement has been made between the leaders of the movement and the military. There appears to be a contradictory mood, the leadership argue that major concessions have been won while sections of the movement feel that this is just a power-sharing agreement between civilian leaders and the military. Although the agreement is for a three year transitional period to democratic elections there are major outstanding issues which do not provide confidence that the military will be effectively curbed.
Despite this there has been celebration in the streets and a strong feeling that there is now an end to 30 years of military dictatorship and a new period opening. Whether this mood will continue depends on the capacity of the leadership to act independently of the military and win the struggle to have genocidal leaders prosecuted and to undertake major social reforms. Since the military remains in key positions of power both are uncertain.
Two factors: Resistance and African Union
The agreement appears to have resulted from two immediate factors: firstly the continuing deep rooted resistance from all sections of the population and particularly the youth and secondly by the African Union (AU) changing its previous policy of generally supporting rulers in power. The first factor was shown by resistance continuing even after the killings and repeated killings. Enraged resistance after the killing of young students by the Rapid Support
Forces proved that the movement was not easing. The second marks something of a turn in the AU (possibly reflecting EU diplomacy); an AU negotiator led steps towards the current agreement. The AU persuaded the military it could not rule alone but the agreement it sponsored left open all the key questions of power. These issues will be the first issues of the transitional government to decide.
Given the relative isolation of the superb resistance this is a triumph of the moment but equally a dangerous situation is opening. Internationally and within Africa this democratic movement which suffered blow after blow has not had anything like the support it needed. Even as the movement challenged military rule and rose up time and again after deaths in confrontations, it struggled largely on its own. If there had been a breakthrough in Algeria the balance of forces would be very different.
Civilians in transitional government
The civilians within the 20-member transitional government will have to struggle to achieve accountability and the prosecution of war criminals. Justice for the families of the hundreds of thousands who have died in wars and in the uprising is what has made for the determination of the resistance. Yet the military will be extremely reluctant to concede accountability and also insistent that military spending will continue at something of 60% of the national budget. Military rulers are deeply involved in the economy and corruption is rampant. There will be a most truncated form of democratic control over the military.
Democracy is far from being realized and the civilian leadership faces the severest test imaginable. Can it maintain the links to the masses, carry out the democratization of society and prosecution of rampant corruption and genocide?
Theory of permanent revolution
The permanent revolution explains that democratic and national tasks will remain unresolved if the working class does not come to power; this provides a class and international perspective. In a struggle such as that of Sudan and Algeria the leadership can be decisive; in Sudan it has faced bullets along with the women, youth and working people generally but it now has a critically important role. The slogans of socialism have not been to the fore in the resistance, rather those of bread, democracy and peace. In conditions of relative isolation, the movement is now exploring the possibilities of democratic control and facing its leadership in a new way; the democratic and social demands now are hemmed in by a new evolving order. Despite this the last word on the Sudanese revolution has not been spoken.
Oaklandsocialist adds: Theory is just generalized history. David Hemson, here, shows how the revolution in Sudan once again demonstrates the theory of permanent revolution. For those who are interested, Oaklandsocialist also has this article on “Venezuela: The theory of permanent revolution and the role of the working class” and “The theory of permanent or uninterrupted revolution and Syria.”