"Let us all act to resolve our internal problems by dialogue”

"Let us make Eritrea the place to share and care"

Stop accusing and blaming each other but come together and evaluate the past and come to invent new ideas promoting innovations.

We failed to build institutions of both legislative and executive bodies as well as the laws, procedures and norms by which we operate. The struggle from dictatorship to democracy demands the fundamental needs of our diverse people, thus we must have clear methods of struggle to bring fundamental changes.

The Eritrean forces for democratic change have had experimented variety of means in the last 27 years, to bring regime change in Eritrea. But all these approaches failed to unite and work together except deteriorated the spirit of mutual respect and trust.

  It is not easy to evaluate the exact methods in transition from dictatorship to democracy and reasons that led to the result of the current situation of the opposition forces in Eritrea, but it would be useful to investigate the reasons behind the status quo in the opposition camp which might help us pick the mechanisms that could lead to our aspired democratic change.

Twenty years has passed in internal political bickering and conflict.

In this article I will be dealing with some proposals that can help us to come to the table of negotiations rather than accusing each other who is the right or wrong.

  1. All forces for democratic change must adhere to the guiding principles of dialogue and have firm commitment that dispute will be settled peacefully- that can enhance the credibility of our struggle from dictatorship to democracy. 
  1. The initiative to engage in dialogue should be shared by all.
  1. A dialogue must be inclusive and participatory to be legitimate and meaningful it must encompass all forces for democratic change. 
  1. The dialogue must fulfil these objectives.

 a/  articulated and critical analysis of the conflict.

 b/ foster national consensus on the challenges and opportunities facing our struggle from dictatorship to democracy.

c/ reaching an agreement on common national agenda.

  1. Formulate an objective on this time of struggle and create consensus on national priorities.
  1. Formulate a comprehensive national agenda to remove the dictatorship and lay foundations for democratic transition.
  1. A national dialogue can help us towards democratic agenda and action plans that must be owned by the people. It must not be limited at the leadership level but disseminated to the grassroots in order to achieve a strong national cohesion.

Conflicts are not all negative but when actors attempt to resolve conflicts by moving outside established institutional frame work  they can create severe problems.

Forces for democratic change should have solved its internal conflicts by dialogue; establishing an environment for an inclusive knowledge-based dialogue on the political process aimed to achieve the desires of our people.

By dialogue ;disputes arisen inside the forces for democratic change should have been processed, debated; reacted and resolved.

At this moment;  the writer of this short article  recommends that let us all be involved to bring all forces for democratic change at the table and resolve the dispute by dialogue in order to get the trust of our people as an alternative to the current oppressive regime of one man rule.

April 28, 2019 Eritrea Focus, News, Reports

                                    28 April 2019Eritrea Focus

Habte Hagos, chairman, Eritrea Focus

The two-day London Conference looking at how a free and democratic Eritrea might emerge in the future was a fascinating, exhilarating and challenging event. It heard from Eritreans from a range of backgrounds and many viewpoints. There were inputs from experts – Eritrean and international – who have worked on and thought about the country and its people for many years.

It was an entirely positive event, which makes the negative response of the Eritrean government as sad as it is predictable. Instead of welcoming discussions about the options that are now emerging, it has attempted to belittle and dismiss. Yemane Ghebremeskel – Minister of Information – responded to the Conference by attacking Baroness Kinnock.

Yemane Gebre Meskel on Conference

Glenys Kinnock is an extraordinary British politician and a very long-standing friend of Eritrea. She visited Eritrea during the liberation struggle and her books including: “Eritrea: Images of War and Peace” did much to inform the international public about the situation.

Baroness Kinnock has been a stalwart supporter of Eritrea Focus, which organised the London Conference, but sadly she was not able to organise nor to participate in these events. If she had been with us, it would have been the icing on the cake.

Ambassador Estifanos, who represents Eritrea in Japan, took a different approach.

Ambassador Estifanos on Eritrea Conference

Perhaps predictably, he attempted to link the Conference to the Tigrayans. It is a rather tired rhetoric, but it can be wheeled out to suit almost any situation, so he has adopted it again.

It is a hallmark of the current regime that they insist on keeping the Eritrean people in the dark. We are denied information about the changes going on in our country and our region. With our National Assembly suspended we have no opportunity to engage in debates about our own futures. This is quite unacceptable.

Our reply

Neither of these criticisms is accurate, but that is unlikely to convince either of these government officials. Our appeal is – rather – to the wider Eritrea public. In this regard we want to make our position clear since, as it is often said, transparency is the best disinfectant. To that end we are publishing the Conference agenda, which identifies who spoke and who led the discussions. [see at the end] The papers will also be published in due course.

Eritrea Focus is an association of Non-Governmental Organisations, human rights organisations, exile and refugee groups as well as individuals concerned with the human rights abuses in Eritrea. We campaign to expose the horrific abuses and suffering of Eritreans, both within the country and as refugees living abroad. We campaign for democratic accountability in Eritrea and the establishment of the rule of law, and actively engage with the international community in our efforts to achieve this.

The London Conference was an important part of our activities. It was attended by about 70 people – mostly Eritreans, but also international experts. Many different views were expressed.

Eritrea Conference group photograph

Delegates came from Kenya, Botswana, a number of European countries and the United States as well as the UK. Funding for the Conference was kindly provided by the National Endowment for Democracy, which is funded by the US Congress, as well as private donations.

Our aim is simple: to look at the immense challenges facing Eritrea and to try to assist in the emergence of a democratic government that can replace the current dictatorship. Ours is a catalytic and facilitative role: we cannot be involved in the end of the present autocratic regime overseen by President Isaias. That task is exclusively one for Eritreans and especially for Eritreans inside the country. What we can do is assist and encourage the process of thinking about what will be required once the transition has taken place. This will be an immense project: no-one can have exclusive ownership of it. All constructive contributions should be welcome.

We are enormously heartened by recent developments inside Eritrea and amongst the diaspora. The ‘Enough’ – Yiakel movement, which the youth have taken up with such enthusiasm, is very much to be welcomed. It will fuel the changes that are coming, but as the Arab Spring so clearly demonstrates energy and hope are not enough. The future must be planned for if it is to produce the kind of government in which rights are respected and the rule of law is established. Our work is designed to be an inclusive process, sharing our work with anyone who shares our aims.

What next?

Over the next few weeks we will put together a range of working groups. These will take forward the papers that were presented at the Conference. We will begin the process of thinking about how Eritrea might be reconstructed after a transition, so that the country can have the ‘softest of landings.’ The issues will include law and the constitution, the economy, women and minority groups and regional issues. We need to identify key scholars and able Eritreans, who can critique what is being considered, but who are also prepared to step forward once the current regime has gone. We will publish the papers we have and how people can become involved.

This is a process – not an end point. But we believe that these are important considerations.

First: We are not a substitute for Eritrean political movements and organisations. We can assist, be catalytic and supportive. Only Eritreans can take the transformation of their country forward. We will try to be inclusive – including reaching out to transnational Eritrean youth in the diaspora.

Second: We do not aim for conformity but for collaboration. We accept, encourage and recognise the work of many other organisations like the Eritrean Lawyers, Eritrean journalists and other professional groups. We will accept and work with the many civic organisation emerging from the country’s women and its youth. “Unite, don’t harmonise” is a useful slogan. We aim to map Eritrea’s intellectual resources and consider how to fill the gaps.

Third: we already have some resources, although we are a small organisation and aware of our limitations. We have produced a well-received exhibition charting the history of Eritrea and we are willing to share it. We are supporting the improving media environment – including the Assena radio and television. We are also monitoring the international media, and will publish what we find.

There is a huge amount of work to be done, but we are not alone and the wind is in our sails.

See the Conference agenda here: Eritrea Conference 2019 – Programme

———————— ENDS ——————————-

 

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for East Africa and The Sudans (R) pose with Sudan opposition delegation 23 April 2019 (Photo U.S. Embassy)

April 23, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for East Africa and The Sudans called n the leader of the transitional military council (TMC) to negotiate with the opposition groups on the formation of a civil government.

Makila James who is visiting Sudan nowadays met Tuesday with Abdek Fattah al-Burhan TMC leader to discuss the political situation in the country after the fall of the regime of President Omer al-Bashir.

In a statement released on Tuesday evening, the U.S Embassy in Khartoum said the visiting diplomat commended the TMC on their decision to heed the people of Sudan’s legitimate demand for a civilian-led, inclusive and representative government that respects human rights.

"She, also, encouraged the TMC to continue to negotiate with the political opposition and protest leaders and to form a civilian-led transitional government," reads the statement.

The opposition which suspended discussions with the TMC political committee organized significant protests across the country on Tuesday and has proven its capacity to mobilize the Sudanese street.

Another protest is scheduled for Thursday before to announce civil authority, a lean government and the appointed transitional legislative assembly.

The visiting diplomat, also, held a meeting with the Freedom and Change forces.

"She commended the people of Sudan for their resiliency and commitment to non-violence as they expressed their legitimate demand for inclusive and representative government," said the Embassy.

Further James reiterated the U.S. priority to see a civilian-led transition to a peaceful and democratic Sudan, stressed the statement.

(ST)

Source=http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article67421

MBEKI URGES RESPECT FOR SUDAN’S SOVEREIGNTY

Wednesday, 24 April 2019 10:06 Written by

MBEKI URGES RESPECT FOR SUDAN’S SOVEREIGNTY

 Former President Thabo Mbeki has weighed in on the ongoing Au Troika Summit in Egypt being attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

JOHANNESBURG – Former President Thabo Mbeki says while the African Union and the international community discuss the future of Sudan, the country’s sovereignty must be respected.

Mbeki visited the African National Congress (ANC) pavilion at the Rand Easter Show where he weighed in on the ongoing Au Troika Summit in Egypt being attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“The sovereignty of the Sudanese people about their own future has to be respected and that’s important, there’re clearly many other people around the world who are very interested in the future of Sudan, which is good. But I’m saying that interest must not undermine the possibility of the Sudanese to exercise sovereignty.”

At the summit, African leaders will focus on “the evolution of the situation in Sudan” where protests continue after the military toppled President Omar al-Bashir.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is also the current president of the African Union.

He will receive the Chadian president Idriss Deby, Rwanda’s head of state Paul Kagame, Congo’s Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Somalia’s Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Ramaphosa as well as Dijbouti’s leader Ismail Omar Guelleh.

For Sudan, the objective “is to discuss … the most appropriate ways to address the evolution of the situation and to contribute to stability and peace”, Egypt’s presidency said.

The AU on 15 April threatened to suspend Sudan if the military does not hand over power within 15 days of that date to a civilian authority.

President of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki is also expected to participate in the discussions, along with officials from Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria.

Source=http://smc.sd/en/mbeki-urges-respect-for-sudans-sovereignty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mbeki-urges-respect-for-sudans-sovereignty

April 24, 2019 News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
24 April 2019

Eritrea Focus

UN Secretary General’s former Africa representative calls for democratic change in Eritrea

London, 24 April 2019Ambassador Haile Menkerios, who served as the United Nations Special Representative to the African Union, and Eritrea’s ambassador to Ethiopia from 1991 to 2000, is calling for a “national conference of representatives of the Eritrean people that would decide on a transitional arrangement to ensure an inclusive process of building participatory democracy in the country.”

Ambassador Menkerios will make his remarks to ‘Building Democracy in Eritrea’, a two-day conference held at Senate House, University of London, from 24-25 April.

The landmark conference will hear from Ambassador Menkerios that only the formation of a new national body of representatives “can prevent violence” following the end of the current dictatorship.

President Isaias Afwerki has ruled Eritrea since independence in 1993. He has suppressed all opposition parties, crushed the independent media and imprisoned his opponents indefinitely.

Eritrea has “the notoriety of being perhaps the only country in Africa that does not have a functioning constitution, a legitimate elected government, nor legitimate and functioning governance institutions that ensure accountability,” Ambassador Menkerios will say.

Conference objective

The two-day conference is being organised by Eritrea Focus, in partnership with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the School of Advanced Study. It brings together more than 70 delegates from the USA, Europe and Africa, including academics, campaigners, members of the Eritrean diaspora, and international experts.

“The objective of ‘Building Democracy in Eritrea’ is to bring together Eritreans and international supporters to begin thinking about tangible, realistic objectives for the establishment of democracy and the administration of justice in the country”, said Habte Hagos, Chairman of Eritrea Focus. “The time for this is now.”

The lessons from Sudan and Algeria

The London conference meets as the Sudanese and Algerian uprisings are unfolding, and which serve as examples of how regime change can come about.  The aim of the conference is to look beyond Eritrea’s current dictatorship and to explore how democratic renewal can be assisted and encouraged.

Among those participating are:

  • Dr Bereket Habte Selassie, the author of the Eritrean Constitution
  • Ambassador Andebrhan Weldegiorgis, former Eritrean Ambassador to the European Union
  • Abraham Zere, head of PEN Eritrea
  • Dan Connell, eminent author and scholar
  • Prof Kjetil Tronvoll, of Norway’s International Law and Policy Institute, expert on the Horn of Africa
  • Prominent humanitarians working with the US Congress, the European Union and the British Parliament.

While the rapprochement between Eritrea and Ethiopia last year brought an end to the state of “no war, no peace” that persisted for 20 years, there are no signs that any reforms have been enacted to address the drastic situation of human rights within the country, which last month the UK Government said remained of “significant concern”.

“The almost absolute concentration of power in the hands of the President is both unstable and unsustainable”, says Habte Hagos. “The British Government acknowledges that we have seen no improvement in the situation of Eritreans following the peace deal with Ethiopia, and people continue to flee the brutal regime of indefinite conscription and the suppression of their most basic human rights. We must learn the lessons of dictatorships that fell but did not give way to democracy, and act quickly to set out the conditions that must be met for a future free from the tyranny of the past three decades.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Eritrea Focus is an association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), human rights organisations, exile and refugee groups and individuals concerned with the gross abuses of human rights in Eritrea.

The objective of Eritrea Focus is to draw attention to the horrific abuses and suffering of Eritreans, both within the country and as refugees living abroad. We campaign for democratic accountability in Eritrea and the establishment of the rule of law, and actively engage with the international community in our efforts to achieve this.

Eritrea Focus provides secretarial support to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Eritrea.

For media enquiries, contact:
James Killin
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: 020 7922 7719

Source=https://eritreahub.org/london-conference-hears-call-from-senior-african-and-un-diplomat-for-democratic-change-in-eritrea

 

 

President Omer al-Bashir speaks to police senior officers at the headquarters of the “police house” in Burri suburb on December 30, 2018. (AFP Photo)

April 20, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s public prosecutor’s office opened two complaints against the deposed President Omer al-Bashir on charges of money laundering and possession of large sums of hard currency without legal ground, a judicial source told Reuters on Saturday.

The source added that the senior prosecutor appointed by the military council to fight corruption ordered the arrest of the former president and questioned him soon in preparation for his trial.

The prosecution will question the former president who is already imprisoned in Khartoum central prison of Kober, and that there are legal proceedings will be taken against some other figures of the former regime who are accused of corruption.

Sudanese media said on Saturday that a team of the armed forces and military intelligence had raided the residence of the ousted president.

The Alray Alaam newspaper reported that the team found large amounts of foreign and local currencies which amounted to more than 6 million Euros, 351 thousand U.S. dollars, and 5 billion Sudanese pounds.

The newspaper quoted the prosecutor in charge of corruption cases, Mutasim Abdellah Mahmoud, as saying that the prosecution immediately began to implement the directives of the Transitional Military Council, and carries out its duties in the fight against corruption.

Mahmoud said further search operation will be at al-Bashir’s residence, and the seized money will be deposited in the Central Bank.

The military council said they refuse to hand over the former president to the International Criminal court and pledged to try him for Darfur war crimes in Sudan.

(ST)

Source=http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article67405

April 16, 2019 News, Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat

Source: Mixed Migration Quarterly

Summary: Ending the “state of war” between Ethiopia and Eritrea has changed very little. The exodus from Eritrea continues, but they are not reaching Europe. Just 492 people arrived in Italy via the Central Mediterranean route, which is the route most frequently used by refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa.

“As data shows that refugees and migrants from the region are still moving northwards towards Europe, this may suggest that increasing numbers are stranded along the way.”


MigrationIt was with much anticipation – following an announcement in June 2018 that Eritrea and Ethiopia had agreed to end the two-decade long “state of war” between the two countries and resume friendly relations, including the reopening of border points – that the humanitarian community expected to see a change in cross-border displacement dynamics.

Forced military conscription, often justified by the Eritrean government as a necessary defence measure during the hostilities, remains one of the primary drivers of migration for both Eritrean children and adults. To date, the Eritrean government has not made any changes to the duration of national conscription and it remains as service for an indefinite period.

Renewed concerns have emerged surrounding reports that the EU is backing a road-building project that will use National Service conscripts, who critics argue are “forced labour” and are recruited for an indefinite period. The EU has stated that it will increase the pay rates of the national service recruits while still upholding their human rights.

While UNHCR projects that the Eritrean refugee caseload in Ethiopia will go down to 123,841 by the end of 2019 (from 173,879 at the end of 2018), figures in the final quarter of 2018 suggest that the opening of borders between the two countries actually resulted in an influx of Eritreans crossing over into Ethiopia with UNHCR approximating that the average daily rates of arrivals was 180 individuals – up from 50.

By the end of 2018, there were over 1,700 refugees registered at Endabaguna Reception Center awaiting transfer to the camps with an average daily rate of 390 individuals across all camps in Ethiopia. Family reunification was cited highly as one of the reasons for the influx, and anecdotal reports suggest that the high levels of arrivals have continued into the first quarter of this year.

Furthermore, interviews conducted with Eritrean refugees in refugee camps in northern Ethiopia indicate that a sizeable number of Eritrean youth arriving into Ethiopia opt to pursue onward movements from the camps to urban centres within, as well as outside of Ethiopia. In fact research indicates that the number of Eritreans crossing into Sudan has not reduced.

This is likely due to various reasons: the driving factors for migration for many Eritreans (forced conscription, political oppression) still remain; many Eritreans remain sceptical of the political changes between Ethiopia and Eritrea which some feel have not been transparent especially with rumours of security crackdowns in border towns; and the deterioration of living standards for many refugees living in over-populated camps in Tigray State.

Additionally, Sudan’s smuggling networks still remain operational and flexible allowing them to adapt to broader regional shifts including closure of old routes thereby making it easier for migrants to cross through.

The Government of Ethiopia continues to advance its ‘Out of Camp’ policy under the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework which will seek to provide work permits to refugees, increase their enrolment in schools, provide access to irrigable land, facilitate local integration, earmark jobs in industrial parks for refugees and provide access to documentation to facilitate access to essential social services.

In addition to the continuation of factors that drive people out of Eritrea, this could be a pull factor for Eritreans to come to Ethiopia once rolled out. Meanwhile, government representatives from both countries held high level meetings in January 2019 to discuss the regularisation of trade and transport relations between the two States.

Arrivals in Europe & East African refugees and migrants in Libya

According to UNHCR, the total number of arrivals in Europe between January and March 2019 was 12,408 persons. Reports show that the number of irregular entries into the EU are at the lowest level in five years. Just 492 people arrived in Italy via the Central Mediterranean route, which is the route most frequently used by refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa.

While a subdued level of movement is typical during the first quarter due to adverse weather conditions, this represents a significant drop in number of arrivals into Italy from 5,945 over the same period in 2018. Refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa accounted for just 44 of the arrivals into Italy in the first quarter of 2019, representing less than 9 percent – a large difference from numbers at the peak of European sea arrivals in 2016, with more than 40,000 arrivals from the Horn of Africa.

As data shows that refugees and migrants from the region are still moving northwards towards Europe, this may suggest that increasing numbers are stranded along the way.

As at the end of March 2019, there were 8,728 Eritrean, 3,680 Somali, 1,252 Ethiopian and 156 South Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers in Libya. Measures by EU-supported Libyan coastguards to intercept and return boats departing from the Libyan coast and efforts to repatriate irregular migrants continued, possibly also contributing to the reduction in arrival figures in Europe.

written by admin April 18, 2019

 PM appoints Gedu and Lemma to lead Defense and Foreign Affairs Ministries

Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed has appointed Gedu Andargachew and Lemma Megersa as Ministers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Ministry of Defense respectively.

The House of People’s Representatives (HPR), in its ordinary 34th session today, has ratified the appointment with majority vote.

Former Defense Minister, Aisha Muhammed, is also appointed as Minister of the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction.

Gedu Andargachew was President of the Amhara Regional State before his replacement lately by the Regional Council by Ambachew Mekonnnen. Lemma Megersa is President of Oromia Region and is expected to be replaced by another Central Committee member of the Oromo Democratic Party soon.

Source=http://www.thearada.com/pm-appoints-gedu-and-lemma-to-lead-defense-and-foreign-affairs-ministries.html

 

 

 

by

15 Apr 2019

Sudan's President Omar El-Bashir and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika were ousted within two weeks of each other [File: AP Photo/Abd Raouf]

Sudan and Algeria can easily evoke memories of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions of 2010 and 2011. Like their neighbours, Sudanese and Algerian protesters managed to overthrow their autocratic leaders after decades of rule, in a matter of months, and without a single shot fired.

Marching, chanting, resisting and daring, the people of Sudan and Algeria pressed on with their calls for freedom and democracy until they were able to disarm the old guard - politicians and generals alike - and force them to acquiesce to their initial demands.

It may still be too early to judge, but so far it looks like these latecomers have learned important lessons from Arab as well as other revolutions. In fact, Sudan and Algeria may well be able to deter the counter-revolution and avert the dangers of civil war.

The signs are hopeful.

Non-violence and inclusion

So far, revolutionaries in Sudan and Algeria are still firmly on the path of non-violence, a la Tunisia and Egypt.

Peaceful protest has proven the least costly and the most constructive among all possible strategies and scenarios, not only to confront repression, but also to pave the way for democracy. Indeed, non-violent revolutions are most capable of splitting the regime's rank and file and straining its legitimacy.

If history is any guide, violent revolts tend to coalesce and galvanise a dictatorship's base, making it harder to bring down. They also produce alternative leadership that is no less violent than the repressive regimes they aim to overthrow.

Those who fight and kill their opponents with enthusiasm and determination are likely to turn against their allies and people with equal vengeance.

But for civil disobedience, boycott, demonstrations and other forms of non-violent strategies to work, they require popular mobilisation. In Algeria and Sudan, people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, young and old, women and men, secular and religious came together in their demand for freedom and better living.

Sudan's leading popular voice, the Sudanese Professionals Association, reflected this embrace of inclusiveness rather brilliantly in its recent call to put "Christ at the heart of the revolution", asking Christians and people of all other confessions to participate in a day of civil disobedience and worship for peace.

Such inclusion of different elements of society prevents the regime from taking advantage of any potential splits or feelings of alienation, as has happened in both Syria and Egypt, in order to discredit the revolution and justify repression against its supporters.

Inclusion also means readiness to incorporate segments of the old order into the movement for change. Not only does this broaden the popular base of the revolution, but it also diminishes the regime's authority and hastens its demise.

Autocrats depend on a system of political and financial patronage that involves the participation of certain segments of society mostly out of economic necessity, not political loyalty.

Condemning or alienating those middle- and low-ranking bureaucrats or government employees, including teachers and policemen, is counterproductive and harmful; attracting and incorporating them in the revolution can contribute to its potential success.

A greater popular mobilisation behind the revolution ensures greater participation in the ensuing democratic process, which guarantees its long-term consolidation.

That may take time, lots of time.

What, not who, comes next

A revolution is a thrilling, liberating rush of social and political adrenaline, but even with broad support, its long-term success depends on consistency and perseverance. The pressure can't ease just because the despot is gone. What must come next is a slow, tedious, and deliberate process of organisation, negotiation and reconciliation. 

Without it, any revolution ends in the dustbins of history.

For, if people return home to business-as-usual after the fall of an autocrat, they allow the old regime to reconstitute itself in one form or another.

Unlike totalitarian revolutions, such as Russia's or Iran's, where change is swift, brutal and decisive, democratic revolutions require time, discipline and endurance.

Historically, democracy comes after big disruptions, and in long phases and stages; it almost never evolves in a linear fashion. The French Revolution, which took decades to realise its potential, is a good example.

Changing an autocrat might be hard; changing the system behind him is even harder. The important question for all revolutions is not who but what comes after.

The Algerian and Sudanese people seem well aware of that. They celebrated the bloodless ouster of Bouteflika and al-Bashir, but they did so knowing well that this was only the beginning of a very long and fraught process.

The swift introduction of substitute leaders from within the old system in both countries underlined the need for more comprehensive thinking about the way forward.

In both Algeria and Sudan, the protesters know they need to get the military on their side and on their terms, like in Tunisia, in order to avoid an Egypt-like scenario.

Tunisia's experience also teaches that protests must go on until a new transparent system of accountability is in place. This means knowing not only whom you oppose, but also what you want both in the short and long term. It's rather easy to be against corrupt repressive leaders, but much harder to articulate and implement a vision for a better future. 

Democracy and democrats

This brings us to the old chicken-and-egg riddle: What comes first, democracy or democrats? For how is it possible to nurture democracy without democrats, or democrats without democracy?

The simple answer is: They come in tandem. It takes experience and courage to foster them.

Democracy is no panacea. It is a lot of work and results can be mixed, sometimes undemocratic, even after decades and centuries of democratic rule. Just look at the rise of fascist anti-democratic right-wing parties in a number of leading democracies.

And in the Arab world, liberal democracy, the truest form of democracy, may indeed be seen as a controversial idea or a foreign import by traditional and conservative portions of society. 

All of this means that there is a need for open debate, for trial and error, which takes time - lots of time. And that is why priority needs to be given to a gradual transition over immediate elections - something the revolutionaries of both Sudan and Algeria seem to insist on.

They demand a transition into civilian, not military rule - one that prepares the political and legal frameworks to hold free and fair elections.

Rushing to the polls immediately is certain to privilege older, more organised parties and fracture the newly formed groups driving the revolution, as they compete for power. Egypt is a good example of how the ancien regime can exploit post-election tensions between liberal secularist and conservative Islamists to mount a coup d'etat against an elected president.

This does not mean open-ended transition that drags on endlessly.

As the new Sudanese Freedom and Change alliance, a public committee representing the demands of the protesters, proposes, a four-year period may be suitable to stabilise the country politically and economically and chart a new way forward.

Algeria seems to follow suit, as it has rejected the announcement of presidential elections in July under the same old rules. Now that Algerian judges have decided to boycott supervising such premature elections, the pressure is building up for their postponement until the country is ready.

Meanwhile, another crucial process that has to take place is managing expectations. Like their neighbours before them, Algerians and Sudanese who have risked a lot in the struggle for regime change, will come to expect a lot.

The Sudanese who revolted against al-Bashir for the lack of bread and fuel, will expect - indeed, demand - solutions not slogans from the transitional government.

No doubt, many confuse democracy with prosperity in the West. Democracy may facilitate creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, but it does not guarantee a higher standard of living, at least not in the short term. 

And in a heavily indebted, underdeveloped nation with few national sources of income, freedom and democracy may generate more anger than wealth.

The art of the impossible

So far developments in Sudan and Algeria have gone in the right direction, but there is also a lot that can still go wrong, considering the road to democracy is full of traps and pitfalls.

If recent "Arab Spring" experiences are anything to go by, the worst is yet to come, especially, as the generals continue to vie for control.

But the long silenced Sudanese and Algerians majorities and their invisible elites have defied all the scare campaigns that warned of a descent into chaos.

They have rejected all forms of domestic and foreign intervention, especially military intervention, to avoid the destruction seen in Libya, Syria and Yemen. 

In short, they prefer to be self-reliant, buoyantly industrious and innovative revolutionaries.

And it sure takes innovation to confront violence with non-violence, to protest loudly and negotiate calmly, to raise the stakes and reduce the risks, to elevate the aspirations and limit the expectations. It will also take more creativity to continue to use accessible means to realise inaccessible ends.

The art of revolution entails deep societal transformation to ensure the sustainability and durability of political transformation.

Source=https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/art-revolution-sudan-algeria-190415114207364.html


ABOUT THE AUTHOR