On the Sudan revolution

Danger to the Sudanese revolution

What has brought the fall of dictator al Bashir has been the working class and revolutionary youth in Sudan. It has not been the political leadership of the ‘opposition parties’. Yet these same ‘opposition parties’ now have signed a highly problematic agreement that keeps the military in direct control for the next 2 years and keeps the security forces, including the army and the rapid support forces (janjaweed), in the hands of the very military leaders who have been responsible not only for the massacre of 3rd June 2019 but for the past decades of rule of Omar al Bashir. In effect the next 2 years is set to be a continuation of the Al Bashir regime but without Al Bashir.

The rank and file ‘bread and dignity’ committees around the country should discuss the proposed ‘deal’ and set their own conditions.

There cannot be bread for all if the large food, oil and mining companies are still under the control of the generals and other capitalists.

There cannot be dignity and peace while Sudanese militias are in Yemen fighting on behalf of the Saudi regime and imperialism.

An urgent task is the setting up of a national coordinating centre of the revolution, comprised of delegates from the rank and file ‘bread and dignity committees from around the country. The hand of friendship should also be extended to the local committees in South Sudan. Delegates should be elected on the basis they are subject to instant recall and not earning more than the wage of an average skilled worker. This national coordinating committee can coordinate struggles as well as be the watchdog over any developments in the country.

Hand in hand with this there should be consideration for the setting up of a new Socialist Revolutionary Party. There must be immediate steps to set up a Constituent Assembly so the demands of the masses can be heard and taken forward.

There should also be attempts to reach out to the workers in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, the rest of Africa, not forgetting the workers in the imperialist centres.


The first premises should be to examine what the underlying forces are of the revolution and on which forces the counter-revolution rests. This is essential not only for the success of the revolution in Sudan but also for the world working class forces. This is a contribution to this necessary task:

On the 3rd April 2019 the dictator Bouteflika had been ousted by the masses in Algeria after decades in power. It gave the masses courage to press for the removal of Omar al Bashir who had been in power for 30 years.

In December 2018 when the Sudan regime doubled the price of bread, continuous mass demonstrations broke out across the country. The demand for bread became a political struggle for the overthrow of the regime.

The leadership of the uprising chose 6th April 2019 to march on the military headquarters in Khartoum and other military bases in other 13 state in Sudan to demand the fall of the regime. They marched under the slogan of ‘bread and dignity’. Already the ruling party, the NCP, had replaced Bashir as head of the party, preparing the way for their own ‘new’ candidate Ahmed Haroun, to take over.

The date of the 6th April was apparently in commemoration of the 1985 coup where the masses were also in uprising over bread and lack of democratic rights. The coup leader in 1985 had promised to introduce democratic reforms. The choosing of the 6th April as a date of decisive protest shows that the leadership of the uprising is contested by bourgeois democratic forces as well. The Sudan Communist Party also supports the protests but calls for a bourgeois democratic government, not for the working class to take power into its own hands. The Sudan Communist Party is part of the opposition forces negotiating with the Military Council.

The masses remained camped outside the army Head quarters for almost two months. The generals had given the order for the protestors to be shot down but the rank and file soldiers refused to carry out the command. What also persuaded the soldiers was the failure of the regime to pay them a regular and adequate wage. In effect the base of the army had broken from the control of the generals. This opened up a massive crisis of regime. Imperialism realised that the only way they could maintain control was to force Bashir out. Thus by the 11th April 2019 Bashir was overthrown and arrested. This arrest is a smokescreen for the military staying in power. Bashir, just as happened to Mubarak, will not face real sanction and most likely will be released in the future. The military tried to impose the Vice President Ahmed Ibn Aouf but the masses rejected him too and he had to stand down within a day. Next the military heads set up the Transitional Military Council (TMC) but the masses rejected them as well. The head of the TMC Abdalfatah Alburhan and his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo known by “Hemadti” are known to be leaders of the infamous ‘Janjaweed’ militias, some who had been incorporated in the army. Considering that the generals were losing control of the army and that if the army actively united and armed the masses it meant a period of real revolutionary mass control. This would have been intolerable for imperialism. Thus, the janjaweed militias were rounded up and brought to Khartoum. On the 3rd June 2019 the janjaweed militias used live ammunition and the brutality they were infamous for, to break up the unarmed masses camped outside the military headquarters in Khartoum and other 13 states. More than 100 were killed; some of them were burnt in their tents; many bodies were dumped into the Nile river in Khartoum as well as a block imposed of all internet connection in Sudan. Meanwhile the soldiers who had refused to shoot on the masses were disarmed and arrested. Over 140 soldiers are still missing even today. The flooding of the military with $ 3bn dollars from the Saudi and Emirates regimes was to buy loyalty of the military as well as the janjaweed. By any means imperialism had to ensure that the military had to be brought under control and had to carry out massacres to re-establish its control.

The Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) and the broad front for ‘Forces of Freedom and Change’ called for a general strike from Sunday 8th June but called off the strike within days after signals from the military heads that they were willing to engage in talks through the AU-Ethiopian mediation.  

The strategic importance of Sudan to imperialism

Sudan serves as a key geographic region for imperialism to hold back refugees fleeing from the rest of South Sudan, CAR, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia. In the violence that the Sudan regime uses to break the spirit of the refugees, it subjects many of them to semi-slave conditions as well as human trafficking.

Sudan also borders the Red Sea, an important conduit for capitalist shipping.

In the war that Saudi Arabia currently has against the masses of Yemen it uses troops and Janjaweed militia under the control of the military leaders from Sudan as its ground forces. Thus a democratic regime in Sudan threatens the imperialist war on the masses in Yemen. The first step of a democratic Sudan would do is to withdraw all troops from Yemen. Thus the establishment of a democratic regime in Sudan could help not only to end the war in Yemen but could pave the way for the masses to take full control of Yemen. The brutal monarchy in Saudi Arabia would be threatened by a democracy on its doorstep. A Socialist Yemen would be its worst nightmare. There are at least 8 million Yemeni in Saudi Arabia. A Spring uprising in Saudi Arabia would threaten the world imperialist control of oil. Thus imperialism would do anything in its power to prevent real democracy in Sudan.

Imperialism wants to keep the military regime in place so any negotiations it has, will have this as a central aim. In the 1972 elections in Chile, it was the democratic Allende that kept Pinochet as head of the army. In 1973 Pinochet launched a coup, killing Allende and over 30 000 of the activists.

The forces of the revolution

That the masses in the urban centres led this revolt marks a qualitative step forward in the Sudan revolution. Yes the working class and middle class have been severely impacted by the world economic crisis, the austerity programme of the regime and the loss of 3/4 of the oil revenue when South Sudan seceded. The danger is that the middle class leaders of the Sudanese Professional Association and other opposition forces may strike a deal for their own interest. In fact a negotiated deal with the military regime will be as fruitless as the Codesa negotiations in South Africa before 1994 as they will leave the ruthless military apparatus intact. What is necessary is the setting up of independentcommittees of workers in the urban and rural areas, be they industrial or agricultural workers. It is important that rank and file soldiers form committees and send delegates to the workers’ committees. The professionals can form their own committees too and all the committees can coordinate joint actions and protests. It is a precondition of the success of the revolution that the workers and masses in general should be armed for self defence. The 3rd June 2019 massacre demonstrates this. The janjaweed should be disbanded, disarmed and dispersed. They must be held accountable for the massacre of the 3rd June. All troops and militias fighting in Yemen should immediately be withdrawn. Internet block out must be lifted with immediate effects. The 140 soldiers and others who refused to shoot on the masses should immediately be released and brought back. The workers and soldiers committees should form an independent interim national coordinating committee, an interim revolutionary council. It is this council that should convene a Constituent Assembly, of 1 delegate per 10 000 people, subject to the right of instant recall and not earning for than the wage of an average skilled worker. Mutual co-operation should be sought with the masses of South Sudan on a non-exploitative basis, recognizing their right to separate but realizing that their fate is intertwined with that of the masses in Sudan. All power should be centred on these independent ‘bread and dignity’ workers committees. In order for the masses to get bread, all the large commercial, industrial, mining and financial companies should be expropriated, without compensation and placed under direct workers’ control.

A revolutionary Sudan will give the masses in Egypt the courage to stand up to the hated dictator al Sisi. The isolation of the masses in Gaza would be broken.

Genuine Socialist Revolutionary workers’ parties should be set up in every country.

The danger of counter-revolution

The 1985 military regime of Gen Abdel Rahman Siwar Al Dahab was among the first to use militias made up of declassed landless peasants and criminal gangs to suppress the masses when the regime realized that the rank and file of the army was refusing to carry out atrocities.

As capitalist decay spread through Africa it meant that pastoralists and small farmers came under pressure- less land and the land that was there. either being depleted or needed for exploitation by monopoly capitalism either for mining or commercial agriculture. These capitalist entities required the peasants driven off the land and they required a pool of cheap labour.

The 2003-2004 war in Darfur was characterised by the following:

  • 2 million people were displaced; over 200 000 killed
  • The rank and file of the army refused to carry out massacres
  • The regime had to recruit militias from criminals and landless pastoralists and landless peasants- they were given guns and permission to loot and rape at will.
  • Much of the best land was cleared and today, there are mines operating under militia guard but military regime control; large tracts of the best land is used for export of gum arabic (80% of world supply comes from Sudan). In the extraction of the raw minerals and production of raw food the following countries are operating in the Darfur: US, UAE, Saudi Arabia, France, Canada, Russia, Qatar. The following minerals are being mined under militia guard led by military regime: Copper, Chromium, gold, cement, radium, silver, Aluminium.

The method of using declassed peasants and criminals to form militias to clear the land for imperialist plunder has also been used in the DRC from 1996 to 2003, when over 6 million people died. Today the SA army guards the imperialist mining operations in the DRC at a cost of at least R50 000 per soldier per month.

As long as the masses remain unarmed in Sudan there is every danger that the janjaweed could carry out atrocities on a wide scale.

There is a need for international working class solidarity to isolate the Sudan military regime and to support the democratic aspirations of the revolutionary masses in Sudan.

9th July 2019. amended 19th July 2019

Workers International Vanguard League


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Without exception,ALL the parties taking part in the elections,despite their promises, will deliver a future of more unemployment, lower wages, more hardship, more evictions, more homelessness, more exclusion from education, death and destruction through starvation and Aids.

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