Can Sudan be a model for Africa?
The postcolonial decades in Africa have failed to produce a model for a fully integrated modernity that could be replicated in countries of the region. The political and economic experiences of various nations failed to develop a successful model that would inspire the rest of the continent.
Sudan, however, has a chance of becoming this model state, should the process of political consensus, including military and civilian parties, take root. It was understanding and cooperation between both camps that led to the signing of a power-sharing agreement, whose success could avoid the failures of past years on all levels.
Sudan has a major opportunity to rid itself of the nefarious coalition between the military establishment and the Islamists. The new forces in Sudan have given explicit and implicit promises to turn over a new leaf. In return, Sudan received pledges of economic aid to help it overcome its accumulated crises if it produces a comprehensive peace and ends the dark episodes of constant wars.
Sudan has been blessed with a privileged location in Africa: huge untapped natural resources, a long history of political engagement and a wide spectrum of qualified elites. Considering it is a hub for many development projects, Sudan is an important station in regional and international power struggles.
The process of dealing with the recent crisis has given an excellent picture of the benefits of political understanding through mutual concessions and putting forth common denominators, a process that drew the attention of some circles to see Sudan as a model for Africa. What the country needs to do now, is complete the implementation of the transitional arrangements that will set the country on a course of security and stability.
Many countries have closed the chapter of internal wars and are making great efforts to create conditions for a favourable environment for development based on stability. Ethiopia's efforts in this area bear witness to its overwhelming desire to move forward. It could have become a model country but its internal and external problems need time to be solved and limit its ambitions to be a major regional centre.
Some Sudanese believe they have a great opportunity to overcome decades of drought. They minimised a large part of their political and social disagreement and have bypassed the notion and limitations of resorting to a quota system in the formation of the Sovereign Council and the interim government, preferring to give prominence to the notion of citizenship.
Political forces of various colours say they are hopeful that the country will become the model that they are constructing on their own without the direct patronage of outside powers. Indeed, the time when nations were made to fit the bill of major powers and their strategic goals is gone.
Sudan can benefit from the help of various forces to develop its infrastructure and institutions and support its progress. This will be true as long as it is able to face the challenges along the way and has the support to help it face and overcome them.
Helpless and hopeless countries are plagued by conflicts and easily become the scene of settling accounts by foreign forces. Sudan went through this throughout the reign of ousted President Omar al-Bashir, who loved to play the game of favouring some countries at the expense of others and whose political opportunism almost obliterated Sudan’s future.
The Sudanese elites are trying to learn the lessons of the crisis and build on its results. They are trying very hard to avoid the vicious cycle of failure and to achieve comprehensive progress because it is the mandatory tool for blocking the foreign bodies that spread extremism as a scourge of societies and a source of worry to many world powers.
Let’s not forget that under al-Bashir’s regime, Sudan had become a sanctuary to leaders of extremist movements and a base for their destructive operations in the countries of the region.
Sudan can become a beacon for modernity in Africa but it could also revert to a model of darkness and underdevelopment. The ball is in the court of those who run the power equation in Sudan and of those among the opposing forces who choose to participate positively or negatively in the transition process.
Sudan should move fast to provide the necessary assurances and quick achievements that will increase the level of support at home and abroad.