GS2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

 

What is the issue?

  • The power transition crisis in Sudan has led to a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

BACKGROUND

  • Sudan has been engulfed by violence for more than a century, even while it was under the British-Egyptian colonial rule.
  • Since independence in 1956, this North African nation has seen sectarian violence, famines and political instability.
  • The latest coup ousting Bashir is the fifth such forcible takeover.
  • Minorities’ resentment (in southern parts of the country) since 1983 led to a bitter civil war that lasted for 22 years and claimed over 20 lakh lives.
  • The region finally seceded in 2011 to form the new country of South Sudan, taking away more than two-thirds of Sudan’s oil reserves.
  • Bashir also pitilessly cracked down on the insurgency in the gold-rich Darfur region.
  • Its Muslim but non-Arab people accused Bashir of only favouring Arab Muslims.
  • A savage militia backed by Bashir used sexual violence, torture, and starvation as methods to suppress dissent.
  • During his three-decade rule, Bashir had outlawed several organisations opposed to his rule such as trade unions.
  • He also jailed or murdered political opponents and journalists.
  • The US designated the repression as ‘genocide’ in 2004.
  • The International Court of Justice in 2009 issued a warrant against Bashir.

DISCUSSION

Ongoing crisis in Sudan

  • Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was toppled in April, 2019 after a months-long popular uprising.
  • Military intervention ejected Bashir from power, and in turn, a Transitional Military Council (TMC) took power.
  • Currently, the protesters are demanding a transfer of power to a transitional civilian government, followed by free and fair elections.
  • But the military generals used the crisis to concentrate more powers in their own hands.
  • Angry protesters continued a sit-in in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudanese capital.
  • The talks between pro-democracy activists and the military rulers collapsed.
  • So paramilitary group’s unleashed deadly violence to break the sit-in, killing at least 100 people and injuring hundreds.
  • The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) threw the dead into the River Nile and reportedly, 40 bodies have been pulled from the river in Khartoum.
  • The RSF are the paramilitary troops notorious for atrocities committed in the impoverished western province of Darfur in the early 2000s.

Future prospects of Sudan

  • After the crackdown, Lt. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the military ruler, has offered to hold elections in 9 months, upturning an earlier plan of a 2-year transition.
  • But there is no immediate plan to transfer power to a civilian transitional government, a key demand of the protesters.
  • So unsurprisingly, protesters have rejected the military’s offer.
  • At present, Sudan’s generals enjoy regional and international support too.
  • The UN Security Council could not even condemn the violence as China, backed by Russia, blocked the move.
  • Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which offered financial aid to the people as soon as Mr. Bashir was removed from power, also support the generals now.
  • This gives the military rulers a sense of impunity even when they unleash murderous paramilitaries on peaceful protesters.
  • So it is evident that the military will not easily give up power any time soon.

India – Sudan Relations

  • India-Sudan relations go back in history to the time of the Nilotic and Indus Valley Civilizations (about 5000 years ago).
  • The first Sudanese Parliamentary elections in 1953 were conducted by Shri Sukumar Sen, India’s Chief Election Commissioner.
  • The Sudan Block of India’s National Defence Academy was partly funded with a gift of one hundred thousand pounds from the Sudanese Government in recognition of the sacrifices of Indian troops in the liberation of Sudan in the North African Campaign during World War II).
  • India continuously offered humanitarian assistance to the Sudanees people.
  • Capacity building programmes includes specialized training courses in Agriculture, Irrigation, Water resources, Renewable energy, Information Technology etc.
  • India is the third largest exporter to Sudan after China and UAE. It primarily exports food stuffs, manufactured goods, machinery and equipment, chemicals including pharmaceuticals, textiles and transport equipment to Sudan.
  • India has invested huge sums in the oil fields of Sudan.
  • Further India extended a line of credit for the development of non conventional energy sources.

Way forward

  • The military rulers must climb down and transfer power to a civilian government.
  • If the military wants to keep its grip on power, there could be more bloodshed as the protesters are defiant.
  • It will have to necessarily build a more oppressive regime, as in Egypt after the 2013 coup.
  • So the other, wiser option is to compromise, resume talks with the protesters and facilitate a quick and orderly transition to civilian rule.
  • Arab countries as well as the UN should put meaningful pressure on the military council to pay heed to popular demands.
  • They should also hold those responsible for the recent massacre accountable.

# Practice Question

  1. What are the possible challenges for India due to the Sudan crisis? Do you thing the relations with this African country is vital for our energy security? (200 Words)
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