Sudan's Dictator Facing Opposition at Home

After 18 years in power, Omar al-Bashir is dealing with new challenges in Khartoum.

Bashir march16 p.jpg

Bashir in Juba, now the capital of South Sudan / Wikimedia

Even as Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir escalates his rhetoric against the United States and mobilizes paramilitary forces against insurgencies within Sudan, opposition parties in Khartoum are calling for him to step down. While the opposition seems too weak and fragmented to pose a serious threat to al-Bashir for now, its statements are a reminder that al-Bashir must watch his back.

On March 3, al-Bashir urged the Sudanese to mobilize for war and to deploy the paramilitary Popular Defence Forces against multiple insurgencies. In a ceremony, the PDF pledged its undying loyalty to al-Bashir and ascribed the insurgencies to American imperialism, international Zionism, and resurgent colonialism.

In response, on March 5, the opposition Umma Party, the Communist Party, and the Popular Congress Party (PCP) said that al-Bashir's mobilization call was issued not in the interest of the Sudanese people but rather for the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). The three parties called for the Sudanese people not to respond to al-Bashir and for the president to step down from office. The political secretary for the PCP called for a transitional government. He called on the Sudanese people to overthrow the NCP. The leader of the Umma party accused the NCP of making war against its own citizens in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, an approach, she said, that earlier resulted in the secession of South Sudan. A spokesman for the Communist Party called on the Sudanese people to reject "the policy of war."

Strong stuff in a country where the the regime shows itself capable of exceptional brutality in Darfur and in the contested border regions in the South. Yet, al-Bashir apparently calculates that it is not in his best interests to initiate all-out repression against his opposition. Or, perhaps he does not feel himself strong enough to be able to do so.

This article originally appeared at CFR.org, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

John Campbell, a former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, is a Senior Fellow for Africa policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served as political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Pretoria during the end of apartheid. He blogs at Africa in Transition.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Global

Just In