Photo: Demonstration in December organized by the Port Sudan Resistance Committees.
The people of Sudan have been in a continual state of mobilization in a struggle against an imperialist-backed military junta and a myriad of attacks on basic democratic rights from reactionary forces since popular movements ousted long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. Right-wing forces formed a so-called “transitional government” in a power sharing agreement with the military brokered in August 2019, just months after the “Rapid Support Forces,” a military-aligned militia, massacred over 100 protestors in June of that year.
The military took complete control of the country in an October 2021 coup and throughout each stage of the struggle the Sudanese people have held non-stop mass demonstrations, strikes and other organizing initiatives across the country. The coup government has responded with vicious repression and over 125 protestors have been killed since the military took full power. Liberation News spoke with Fathi Elfadl, National Spokesperson for the Sudanese Communist Party to get the latest on this heroic struggle.
Resistance Committees: backbone of the struggle
A network of over 5,000 Resistance Committees has formed the backbone of these mass actions over the last four years, but the RCs are not new to Sudan. Fathi Elfadl explains, “the popular struggle to overthrow the Muslim Brotherhood regime did not start in 2018. First, it was based on the revolutionary traditions of the mass democratic movement, which through the years managed to topple two military dictatorships in 1964 and in 1985.”
This rich revolutionary history informed the strategy of the SCP, which has been working to establish organizing committees in residential areas, workplaces, and educational institutions alongside other popular democratic forces since as early as 2010. This process, Elfadl describes, “was taking place while U.S. imperialism and its lackeys in the area, fearing the possibility of the regime being overthrown, advocated the project of ‘soft landing,” organizing right-wing opposition forces and extending the life of the al-Bashir dictatorship.
By January 2018, the mass movement began to take its current form and the RCs became essential actors in the overthrow of Omar al Bashir in April 2019. The RCs have developed over the last four years of struggle in several key ways, building on the foundation of the initial organizations dating back to 2010. “The present RC are generally formed out of the participation in the daily struggles,” Elfadl describes, “Basically they are more linked to the residential and community areas.” Additionally, while communists and other political parties play a role in the organization, many members represent patriotic, democratic, and “middle of the road” positions as individuals, not organizations.
Recently, a wave of strikes have swept Sudan as, “Professionals, workers, farmers, and even merchants are entering the battlefield and coordination between the RCs and the strike committees is growing by the day.” This is one step toward the goals of the RCs, which is to develop the broad unity among anti-coup forces necessary for a national democratic front.
Freedom, peace, justice
The main slogan of the protest movement is “Freedom, Peace, Justice,” which was also the slogan of the Sixth Congress of the Sudanese Communist Party held in 2016 and represents the basic demands of the overwhelming majority of the Sudanese people: democratic and political rights, peaceful resolution to the ongoing civil wars in the country, and the fair and just division of wealth and authority in Sudanese society. These demands are the basis for unity among the many sectors of Sudanese society.
“The present wave of strike actions is a vivid example of the growing tendency to organize the working people.” Elfadl emphasizes, “The students’ actions against increased educational fees is another example. The move within the peasantry against government intervention and selling of land to foreign capital is an important development in the direction of unifying these different sectors into a broad front with a program that reflects their demands.”
Political demands for the end of military rule have been increasingly united with social and economic demands for health care and education. Another key demand is the dissolution of militias, like the Rapid Support Forces, which carried out the notorious massacre on June 3, 2019, and is headed by the junta’s vice president, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
U.S. imperialism: a major barrier
U.S. imperialism has a long history of intervention in Sudan and has been a constant threat to the democratic ambitions of the Sudanese people for decades. The military coup of 1958, just two years after winning independence from British colonialism, came at a time when the Sudanese parliament, under pressure from mass movements, was moving to reject U.S. “aid.” This was just the first in a pattern of interventions that continue through today.
Now that the contemporary “mass actions have reached a higher stage threatening the existence of the regime,” Elfadl explains, “the U.S. administration together with the EU and the reactionary Arab governments are strengthening their efforts to impose once again a political settlement that would lead to the formation of a ruling circle composed of reactionary political forces in cooperation with the military junta.”
The military junta has made the news recently for finalizing this normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel, a move brokered by the Trump administration as part of the so-called “Abraham Accords,” which paved the way for normalization between Israel and Gulf monarchies like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. This move has been condemned by the vast majority of popular forces in Sudan as an anti-democratic conspiracy by “imperialist, Zionist, and Arab reactionary governments to impede the progress and struggle of the Arab peoples for national and social liberation,” according to Elfadl.
The struggle for popular democracy and socialism in Sudan is a front in ongoing anti-imperialist struggles the world over, especially considering Sudan’s unique historical, political and economic position as a bridge between Africa and the Arab states.