Riots? What Riots?


I'm sure everyone saw, or at least heard of, the showdown on AlJazeera last night between an advisor to the ministry, a member of the NCP (naturally) and a university lecturer who is also a member of the opposition. Those 46 minutes or so were the very epitome of what is going on in Sudan today: people complaining about what's happening now, and people totally denying it and calling the other side delusional. I didn't know if I wanted to laugh, cry or vomit. I just couldn’t believe my ears as the NCP dude kept saying over and over again that there are no demonstrations, there are no financial difficulties in the country, we don’t owe anyone anything, we built this country from scratch, what little rioting going on nowadays is just a bunch of kids whose only aim in life is to 'burn and ruin people's property'. I mean, seriously? Don’t you people get tired of this? The only reason I can think of that makes them keep saying that is that they really believe it. And I think they do. Because I'm pretty sure that planet of theirs that they live on is very much demonstration-free.

General Aboud swearing in Dr. Bashir Arbab & Prof. El-Sheikh Mahgoub
There is one thing, however, that bothered me about the discussion. It bothered me because it was true. As a comment on how small and one-sided the demonstrations are, the advisor said that if he wanted to organize a demonstration aiding the current regime, he could do so in a day and there would be millions of people in that demonstration shouting in support of the president. And he's right. The same people grumbling about how their salaries aren’t enough to buy bread for a week would be out on the streets in seconds, calling his name. Just look at the 2010 elections: Al-Bashir won by an overwhelming majority, and for a number of reasons:

1.       The majority of the opposition boycotted the elections with the excuse that they were a farce and there was no point in taking part anyway

2.       There were widespread allegations (and some questionable videos) of forging and swapping votes (for the NCP). Some people claimed their names had appeared on poll lists when they hadn’t even voted

3.       The NCP went through the process of recruiting every man, woman and child in the country by taking them from their homes to register, and then again to vote. There were massive rallies, millions of posters (the only posters to be seen on the streets, actually) and a campaign that cost millions (of the country's money). None of the other candidates went to such measures. Probably because they didn’t have that much access to the national funds.

4.       Lack of interest/apathy of a huge portion of the Sudanese community inside and outside the country, with the excuse that, again, the elections were going to be a farce, and that 'Al-Bashir is going to win anyway, so why bother?). The average age of people who registered to vote was 50.

5.       The most important reason Al-Bashir won the elections, was because that everyone voted for him. Really.

So when the advisor for the ministry talks about demonstrations supporting the president in the millions, you better believe him. The Sudanese people are either hypocrites (which they area), amnesic (which they seem to be), cowardly (which they also are) or just stupid. They can talk to you for hours about the atrocities of the regime, the impossible prices, how their kids are insulted and kicked out of school for not paying up, and how they wish they could live anywhere but in Sudan. And then they go and vote for Al-Bashir. Those elections didn’t need to be forged, he would’ve won anyway. Also, the fact that no one stepped up to run against him, from the opposition or otherwise, really helped, since there was no real alternate option. The same question people keep asking now: if not him then who? That along with the common statement that if Al-Bashir leaves then we'll end up like Somalia, with militias roaming the streets and chaos taking over.

I wonder though: if there were to be elections, how many people would actually register and vote against him? My past experience tells me that no one under the age of 40 (unless they're NCP or members of opposing parties) will even bother. Why must we be so apathetic? It's not just about riots and shouting slogans. We can't so easily overthrow someone whose been sitting comfortably for the past 23 years and whose roots go so deep into the structure of the country it's like a cancer that’s spread and spared nothing and no one. We need a plan, and more importantly, we need to stick to that plan. Or else people like that ignoramus who claim that the average Sudanese has an income of $1800 (per month? Per year? Per lifetime?) will have the last laugh.

Any suggestions?

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