Saturday , June 6 2020
Home / COLUMNISTS / Andrew Mwenda / The fall of Omar Bashir
Covid-19 Image

The fall of Omar Bashir

Omar Bashir

Why the Sudanese leader is a hero not a villain for nurturing the progressive forces that removed him

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | Finally prolonged popular protests have brought down the 30 years long rule of Sudanese president, Gen. Omar Al Bashir. This was inspiring news for the Ugandan opposition who wish President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 33 years now, suffers a similar fate. Sadly, these wishes are unlikely to yield anything because actions, not wishes, are what really bring down governments. Most likely Sudan may provide Museveni an opportunity to look for ways to manage future uprisings better.

Be that as it may, for those of us interested in a meaningful transition in Khartoum, there are some worrying signs. The Sudanese military, without whose support the protesters would never have removed Bashir, took over power and promised to rule for two years in order to organise a transition to a civilian administration. The protesters are suspicious, and legitimately so, of the army’s intentions. So they have remained on the streets, insisting the military hand power to a civilian government. But who selects this civilian government and how? This is a critical issue activists on social media seem indifferent to.

It is rare in human affairs to have a perfect solution. Hence, in making decision we always have to make a trade off. In this case, the choice facing Sudan is not simply to transfer power to a civilian administration but how to achieve such a goal in a reasonable way. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary to risk military rule for two years than plunge the country into the unknown. The protesters on the streets are united by one thing – to see Bashir and the military leave power. Beyond that, there is little ideological or policy harmony among them, leave alone an organisation, for anyone to imagine they can be given power and it does not lead to internal quarrels and recriminations over the spoils.

Secondly, there is no evidence that the protesters represent the will of the Sudanese people as opposed to the wishes and ambitions of a few elites in Khartoum. It is possible there are many people who still identify with Bashir in Sudan, and they may constitute a majority in that country. The fact that urban protests brought down his government does not mean he lacked popular support; it could be that the protesters held the political center of gravity. Therefore, Sudan needs a transition organised by the army that ensures different competing groups organise to demonstrate their political muscle. The fear of the military later changing its mind and seeking to cling to power should not blind us to this reality.

There is a common but mistaken view that the fall of tyranny automatically leads to the triumph of democracy. Unfortunately this view is born of naïve hope rather than historical experience. All too often, the fall of a dictator has led to renewed tyranny (as in Egypt in 2014, DRC in 1997) or to chaos – as was the case of Uganda in 1979, Somalia in 1990, Liberia in 1990 and recently in Libya after the fall of Muammar Gadaffi. Rarely, as in Tunisia and Burkina Faso, have street protests produced a smooth transition of power.


  1. Spin Doctor

  2. Dr. Eng. Kant Ateenyi

    Friends, I have been off the column for some time: Too much work down here and elsewhere. I was in Ug recently for only a short time – but was too busy installing a few items in the west and giving two presentations in the east. I tried calling M9 to no avail. I rushed back south only to find ‘loads’ waiting.

    Anyhow, now I seem to have a problem with M9’s and his Karl Marx ‘grave digger’ reasoning. If to do well for previously impoverished people when leading government, means ‘digging one’s political grave’ then those who want to remain in leadership for as long as nature enables them, cannot consciously be doing ‘good’ for the people, unless their motive is NOT SELF INTEREST. Which also brings me to his view on capitalism: While I may agree that many capitalists (including him?) seek profit first, I am inclined to disagree on true innovators and inventors. The creative part in the process of invention is so precarious that to put profit behind it, would very easily abort it. The drive behind it for many inventors is a desire to feel you have done what no one else has been able to do – and if you can profiteer from that effort, that would be ‘bonus’. Since M9 likes reading a lot, I would – without blowing own trumpet – advise him to checkout :
    and focus on section 3.1 of that work.

    Dr Eng Kant Ateenyi

  3. 1.I dont believe that bread alone can bring down a dictator.Most of sudan is dry and govt had established quite a number of irrigation schemes.
    2.Bashir was just unlucky that he was back stabbed by his men.
    3.Most of the Arab leaders have a close knit that cant be easily penetrated.The so called elite demonstrators will not get all their demands fullfilled.
    4.At times the demands of the youth of now days should not be taken seriously coz in some cases,they are under the influence of toxic substances .
    5.The demands of todays’ youth are too simplistic i encourage govts not to loss grip.
    6.In todays’ world it seems every one has a vague idea of what it means to be a president may be we should all be made presidents.

  4. Charles murasira

    Winnie amazes me with her analysis…hmm

  5. 1.You speak well that Sudan (and not Bashir) has set up irrigation schemes sufficient to grow more than enough grain so that there is more than is required to make bread. Then why triple the price? Winnie you reason backwards like someone who looks at the back, then turns and walks. what do you drink?
    2.Should his men have stopped a hurricane composed of professionals,religious fanatics, street smarts and hooligans all mixed together…can you in your describe such a group Winnie? I know you can’t…it is called ‘people power’…wait for it a bit longer, it is coming.
    3.The elite-led demo was first and foremost demanding that the dinosaur step down so they will show the nation how to go about the repair of the damage he had done in his 30 year reign. You will agree that this fellow Bashir was cause and effect of the Darfur problem which has created its own vultures who don’t want peace because war has enriched them. Even if they don’t get all their demands, at least they will get some.
    4. Youth like yu say are unruly for lack of proper parenting. Their parents’ generation was so well looked after that they became spoiled and ignorant of true parenting….no wonder they indulge in all forms of opulence when they have the means and resort to crime when they don’t….a compulsory spartan system of education should be established and maintained so that first the types of Winnie are roped in and grilled mercilessly so they will know how to handle the kids they sire….else we are wasting our time….I heard mbu bhang grown extensively in Kasese is being exported to Europe and earning good monies part of which bought the Bombardiers…….whether true or not, it remains immoral to earn money from narcotics.
    5.It is the politicians who spoil youth with endless lies….promising them jobs yet it is not mentioned anywhere in the pedagogical contract that a government owes anyone a job. Study, write exams and if you pass, get a certificate and hit the street… your own level like rainwater does. That is what I tell youth.
    6. You are right by saying you should all be presidents….but on second thought, ask yourself who you will preside over. Winnie you should go back to S3 and revise chapter 5 of School Mathematics. Your logic seems to sound like the opposite of things…I at times wonder how you reason out cases…….if you are indeed a lawyer because most of your posts point to a profession of lesser brain-work and more hip-hop when horizontal.

  6. @Rwasubutare you need to manage your moderate Brain while discussing with Lawyers.

    Before S.Sudan became independent,The world believed that Bashir was behind the chaos that rocked the nation but he later proved every one wrong so we should not be in a hurry to judge him for the Dafur crisis.

    The Muslims in the Arab world seem to be shy to say that Islam lacks some aspects of civilization for example,most Muslims dont study coz its a taboo,they dont engage in social activities like sports,music so how do they begin advocating for democracy which is a Western norm yet they believe that Western norms are a Haram?

    • Winnie, there is a lot that we agree on especially when you opt to be serious and truthful like today. Muslims’ deficiency of civilised conduct (no matter how learned) is at times disappointingly and undeniably apparent. But we fear to display it openly because they turn violent and destructive. I have blood relatives who Islam has made total strangers to me and it is very painful as I look on helpless when a child of my brothers goes away (literally) lost and incorrigible. They have now come through the back and we should brace for trouble……………IS is in DRC and active.

      • Both Rwasubutare and Winnie! I think you are off limit of this column trend of discussion. Have you thought thoroughly on the crisis on some muslim communities? The ignorance stance you brand the muslims is a result of muslim fundamentalism or a result of some recent make like what mishaps the African nations, through their dictatorial leaders? I, as a born muslim in East Africa, know that most of non-muslim polarised analysis of “muslim and islam” need of more schooling, reading and comparisons. Maturity in this subject has never been experienced even for the so called “educated click” of our (African societies) –like you two– as well as the globe at large. Yes! For those who mounted the fate of “ignorant muslims” have also framed the thinking of “scholars” of all other disciplines and geographies. Having said so I am not here to scorn or disrespect, I am here to refer to you to more reasoning, studies and comparison analysis. Start today and refer to the near and further past

  7. “there is no evidence that the protesters represent the will of the Sudanese people as opposed to the wishes and ambitions of a few elites in Khartoum”

    M7 started a devastating bush was with 27 fighters and ended it with 7000 (if these figures can be believed). In any case, where is evidence that these fighters represented the will of the people of Uganda?

  8. kambere godfrey

    I think that as a country ,there is nothing good we can learn from the Sudanese. the conflicts there in are older than the country itself- right from the times of the Ottomans. Yet the fall of the Omar regime demonstrates to us the fact that the majority of the young people in all the walks of life get fed up with decadent systems that will keep explaining their failures with long speeches and funny figures most of which do not resonate with their needs to feel proud of their countries. In the 90s most of us used to scoff at the Kenyans for their having an old school teacher as their leader , luckily for them a solid economy saw them through a not so smooth transition. A few weeks ago some country in Eastern Europe voted a comedian as their head of state. In the Ugandan parliament you find artists that occupy seats once the preserves of the likes of Wasswa Lule (a respectable professinal) . this worryig trend should help remind the decision makers that whatever they are singing alienates the young people full of aspirations. There is a limit to everything luckily for Bashir HE HAS seen it and joined history .His admires can look back at their moment in the sun . For us here it is good detraction in the moment of waiting for the next mistake our leaders will make of course the usual banned rallies or corruption scandals or another tax idea. Notice how most of our young people read only the sports page of any newspaper!

  9. What I see in these replies is two groups of African thinkers. Both are lost. In one hand the frustrated oppositions who blame everything on the current regime and on the other hand the defenders of the crown. Uganda, as well as Africa in general, calls for a more articulated thinking that will focus on bright practical future that will be molded in the erratically present. This is where the challenge lies! This is where I do not see the approaching hope! So guys do not be like our politicians –vijembe na matusi–, be like thinkers who can save this continent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *