Sudan (MNN) — Everyone appears to be seizing Sudan’s moment of change and celebrating the ouster of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir. Miles Windsor of Middle East Concern says, “The army stepped in, deposed the president and have arrested the president.”
There’s been a notable lack of the phrase ‘coup d’état’ in describing the events of the last 36 hours. As defined by Merriam-Webster, a coup d’état is a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics– especially the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group. However, Windsor says, based on the information he’s getting from Sudan, “It’s certainly the result of a popular uprising. I think it could also be described as a ‘coup’. That would be accurate.”
For the time being, “The army has outlined a two- year military council to oversee a transition of power and a three-month state of emergency which will include a curfew between 10 in the evening and 4 in the morning, and they’ve disbanded the government.”
Sound vaguely familiar? Neighboring Egypt just went through something similar in 2011 with the deposition of Hosni Mubarak, the installation of military rule, and an election that saw the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power under Mohamed Morsi in 2012. Egypt went through another coup in 2013, not to mention a new constitution and the eventual election of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in 2014. That’s also the lesson in caution for Sudan, explains Windsor. “Whilst we can celebrate the removal of a major human rights violator from power, the reality that we have seen throughout the Middle East and North Africa is that when one regime is replaced, it doesn’t necessarily automatically lead to new democratic institutions, as we would recognize them.”
Windsor observes the role of the international community as one that supports that process and ensures that there is not simply a new form of military regime in Sudan. He goes on to say that despite Bashir’s ouster, Sudan’s streets remain full of protestors.
“They’re still not delighted by the idea of military rule”, he says. “Clearly the protestors, the general public in Sudan, desire something better than military rule and are continuing to push for that. So we will see how that develops—whether military control is shortened to allow for a proper transition of power to democratically elected leaders.”
Hope In A New Day
Politics aside, the international community has a watchful eye on the country. Sudan ranks 6th on the 2019 Open Doors World Watch List, a ranking of the top 50 countries where the persecution of Christians is worst.
Bashir ruled Sudan as an Islamic state with limited rights for religious minorities. He placed heavy restrictions on freedom of speech and press. Christians faced constant discrimination and pressure. He specifically targeted Christian converts from Islam for persecution. Christian communities in Sudan remain cautious about faith conversations with Sudanese Muslims because that could put them at risk for arrest or intimidation.
For those serving as Gospel workers or church leaders, the events of the last couple of days are momentous. What’s ahead is unknown, but full of possibilities.
“They’re asking for prayer that calm will be restored soon in Sudan, that the Lord would protect His Church there, and that our brothers and sisters in Sudan would remain a clear testimony in the midst of a crisis.”
Headline photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons