Democratic Insurrections in Algeria and Sudan Give Hope for the Future

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Twenty two year old engineering student, Alaa Salah talking to the protesters in her iconic stand. Look at the number of her audience who are women with head scarves!

The successful mass revolts in Algeria and Sudan demonstrate the power of the collective popular classes.  They also show that the potential for global socialist revolution remains on the agenda.  The success of the Algerian masses in removing their dictator of two decades

gave confidence to the Sudanese people to come out and topple their dictator of 30 years.  In each case it was the organised working class that provided the backbone of the insurrections.  Especially in Sudan, women fully supported the protests. The iconic pictures of Alaa Salah, a 22 year old engineering student, became the symbol of the their revolution.

Alaa also tweeted after Bashir had been arrested, “We will only accept a transitional civilian government composed of the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change.  No other plan will be acceptable.”  The masses remain on the streets of many cities in Algeria and Sudan demanding more – “Our revolution continues towards its goals. Only complete acceptance of the will of the people and the revolutionaries will end our sit-ins and protests.”

Sudanese everywhere are referring to protesting women as “Kandaka,” which was the title given to the Nubian queens of ancient Sudan whose gift to their descendants is a legacy of empowered women who fight hard for their rights.  This shows that even in a predominantly Muslim countries women can and should fight for equality.

The Association of Professionals of Sudan (SPA) developed as an alternative trade union as the traditional unions had all been hijacked by the previous government.  The SPA, organising doctors, academics, teachers, engineers etc, is the real leadership of the mass movement in Sudan.

The revolts in Sudan started in December last year, with protests at the tripling of the price of bread (used in place of swallow in Sudan) and sugar. This transformed into a national revolt in all major cities against dictatorship and the high cost of living.

Finally, gaining confidence from the overthrow of the Algerian dictator, the protestors organised 24 hour pickets of the military headquarters.  After almost three decades in power the Sudanese ruler was overthrown within six days (and nights).  This shows that small protests can lead to greater struggles and hopefully, if successful, can lead on to socialist revolution.

The revolts show the continued validity of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution.  This is true in two ways.  First small protests give confidence to greater struggles and secondly, revolutions quickly spread from one country to another.  It also indicates that the working class needs to use the opportunity of the weakened ruling class in Algeria and Sudan to push for their demands.  Now is not the time for compromise ‘in the national interest’.  The masses now have the power and confidence to struggle for significant improvements in their lives and the dismantling the repressive state apparatus.

On Thursday night, after Bashir had been removed, defying the curfew, protesters in Khartoum beat drums, sang and chanted slogans such “Peace! Justice! Freedom!” and “The first one fell, the second will, too!” as they thronged the area overnight.  The next day the first interim military leader also resigned and the curfew was lifted.  “In two days, we overthrew two presidents” proudly chanted the Sudanese protesters.

On Saturday, the following day, the leader of the National Intelligence and Security Services (the equivalent of the DSS) was forced to resign.  The masses are now demanding the dismantling of this repressive organisation – not just a few changes at the top.

We can only hope that these struggles will deepen in Sudan and give confidence to other Africans to struggle against dictatorships, poverty and injustice especially in Cameroon, Uganda and Swaziland.  Democracy is not enough but provides easier conditions for the labouring classes to struggle to improve their lives and ultimately fight for socialism.

US regimes have been against the Sudanese Government since Osama bin Ladin was in Sudan and the US bombed a drug factory.  They said former president Bashir was a ‘terrorist’ because they do not like him.  But the apartheid state Israel, that does terrorise the middle east, is considered to be a democracy by the US government!

An enemy of US imperialism is not automatically our friend.  Bashir was a vicious dictator who enriched his own supporters through privatisation.  Similarly Gaddafi in Libya was no socialist.  He looted the state for the benefit of his family and friends.  His sons owned several large houses in Britain.

Sudan also indicates that we should not accept the colonial borders.  South Sudan was finally given independence in 2011, but similar struggles especially in the West of Sudan (Darfur) also gave rise to massive bloodshed.  The UN estimated that between 200,000 and 400,000 died in the conflict.  Socialists should not demand ‘national unity’.

There are two Nigeria’s those of the rich and those of the poor.  They may be in the same geographical region, but their lives are in different universes.  The poor trek to work while the rich go by executive jet.  We are not in favour of national unity or ‘making Nigeria great again’ – following the slogans of racist Trump who referred to “the shit countries of Africa”.  We are in favour of solidarity and unity of the working and labouring masses across the world.  That is why we applaud the actions of our brothers and sisters in Algeria and Sudan.

The Bolsheviks were correct to offer independence to any part of Russia that wanted it after their successful socialist revolution in 1917.  Similarly, socialists in Nigeria would allow the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) the right to secede.  Only then can the working class in each country go on to lead the socialist revolution.  Similarly we have to fight ethnic chauvinism, racism or nationalism whenever it raises its ugly head.

The labouring masses, especially the collective working class,  have to depend on their own power, we cannot rely on the military.  So the protesters in Sudan are correct to continue with their protests.  On Wednesday 17th April, nurses and doctors marched from the main hospital in the capital, Khartoum, to join the protesters.

The demand for a general strike has also been raised to put more pressure on the military to give up their power and dismantle the security forces.  Some leaders have been dismissed, but this is not enough now is the time for the repressive security forces to be dismantled and weakened.

Recent events in Algeria and Sudan show the importance of building socialist organisations.  The presence of such parties can make a crucial difference in such revolutionary times.  They can ensure that local strikes and disputes are organised while the ruling class is in disorder.  This can ensure that the popular classes make significant gains and that democratic demands are achieved at the national level.

The popularly forces in Sudan are correct to demand a civilian transitional government that represents the forces of the revolution, in place of the military council.  They also need the dissolution of the old ruling party (National Congress Party) and the dreaded National Intelligence and Security Services that killed scores of protestors across Sudan.

Now is also the time for the popular classes to push forward their economic demands – the increase in the price of bread was the spark that started the revolt – significant wage increases and improvements in the lives of the labouring masses should be the result.  We can only hope that the Sudanese and Algerian revolutions will continue with more significant gains for the poor of these countries and as an inspiration for workers across Africa.

by Drew POVEY

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