from Africa in Transition

Sudan’s Al-Bashir on the Way Out?

June 28, 2012

Blog Post

Al-Bashir’s regime is in trouble. It has lost seventy-five percent of its revenue with the independence of South Sudan, creating a huge budget deficit. Of its remaining revenue, the press estimates seventy percent goes to fighting in Darfur and the disputed border regions with South Sudan. Salaries of Khartoum’s senior state officials have been cut, and the bureaucracy downsized. Student-led protests over the end of the fuel subsidy and escalating prices are continuing and may be gaining momentum, with a specific focus on the country’s economic travails and calls for al-Bashir to go. There are rumors – always denied – that the families of senior ruling party officials are leaving the country. Meanwhile, Nigerian UN peacekeepers in Darfur are threatening mutiny over non-payment of their wages by the Nigerian government.

Al-Bashir looks desperate. He is closing down newspapers and arresting opposition leaders and activists. On June 25, he fired nine advisors and the regional governments resigned – except those of South Darfur which refused to do so.

An Arab spring? Not yet. More likely is that al-Bashir is losing the support of the ruling National Congress Party. If he is removed from office, essentially the ruling party would be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Most of the same people would remain in charge and continue largely isolated from the Sudanese people. But there really is no credible opposition ready to step in. The grievances of the protestors over elimination of the fuel subsidy and the devastating price hikes will remain, absent al-Bashir. That leaves open the possibility of a subsequent Arab spring.