Recent events in Sudan, which saw the ouster of long-serving military ruler General Omar al-Bashir and the takeover of the reins by his Defense minister demonstrates the futility of dictatorship.
The thirty-something years of his brutal and iron-fisted rule could not survive the Khartoum Spring. And the Sudanese got most of the world’s empathy for reasserting their right to freedom.
The general’s firm grip on the Sudanese people crumbled like feet of clay when the democratic forces sustained protracted demonstrations on the streets and ultimately their siege of military institutions. Ironically, Bashir who overthrew the elected government in 1989, had since repeatedly won elections, which his opponents have challenged as neither fair nor free.
Democracy is many times more powerful than the sword, and eventually the power of the people peacefully exercised will always win the day. This is the lesson to be learnt from Bashir’s debacle.
A situation where suppression of human rights; freedom of expression, association and democratic institutions reigns, such that the law of the land is the word of the dictator and all the attributes of a democratic society are broken and crushed under the boots of the capricious ruler may not have space on the continent any longer.
One can only hope that the people of Darfur regions who were slaughtered, maimed, displaced and made to disappear by Bashir’s brutal forces can now get reprieve from the International Criminal Court (ICC) when the general is delivered to answer for his crimes.
It is also hoped that the new rulers will speedily recognize the need to allow the people exercise their democratic rights so that power no longer resides in the bullet. The wise ought to learn from the mistakes of others.
For years, many African countries under the yoke of dictatorship have said it was impossible to purge a dictator. Now Sudan has demonstrated that the dictator can be shouted out of power. The regime was too powerful, the masses too apathetic, the security apparatus too ubiquitous and brutal.
The remaining dictators don’t have to wait for such demonstrations to give up power in the most dishonorable way like Hosni Mubarak and Bashir. They can negotiate their smooth exit and pray for amnesty like some retired ones have done. Bashir could have been lucky in that he is still alive, but it could have been worse. He could have been killed like former Libyan ruler Col Muammar Gaddafi.
The condescending narrative by some dictators that without them or purging them would result in chaos (après moi, le déluge) as if they can defy mortality, is no longer tenable. We wish the Sudanese people a peaceful transition to democracy and reasonable leadership.