From Dictatorship To Democracy In Sudan

For six months, the people of Sudan have been crying for the military government to step aside and make way for a civilian democratic government.

Since Sudan has been under a dictatorship for the past three decades, an immediate transition to a civilian democratic government will be detrimental to the nation, likely to weaken the already unstable economy. In order to succeed, Sudan must pursue a smooth “dictatorship-to-democratic” transition over an adequate period to make sure that the new system does not fail.

An instantaneous switch to a democratic government from a dictatorship will have an adverse effect on the average citizen’s quality of life. Individuals in Sudan have been living under a dictatorship-style government since June 30, 1989. For some people, it is all that they have ever known. If the transition is too quick, some individuals and businesses might find it hard to cope. As stated by Larry Diamond, author of Beyond Autocracy in Africa, “It is unrealistic to think that countries in Africa can suddenly reverse course and institutionalize stable democratic government simply by changing leaders, constitutions and/or public mentalities. If progress is made toward developing democratic government, it is likely to be gradual, messy, fitful and slow, with many imperfections along the way.” (Diamond).

An immediate switch from a dictatorship to a democracy may also destroy the already fragile economy. In July 2018, one American Dollar (USD) could be exchanged for 18 Sudanese Pounds (SDG) on the black market; however, due to the unstable government, Sudan experienced hyperinflation and reached its highest exchange rate value of 91 SDG for 1 USD in April 2019. Item prices were changing on a day-to-day basis. Meanwhile, the “legal” rate remained at 18 until October 15th 2018, when the central bank decided to immediately match the rising black market rate of 45 SDG per USD. This disequilibrium in exchange rates was a major factor that led to a shortage of cash. Individuals then started deciding against saving funds in the bank because it would be extremely difficult to attain liquid cash. Due to this shortage of cash, individuals and businesses were unable to financially plan for the long term. According to the Central Bank of Sudan, “The average exchange rate of the Euro appreciated to 54.4149 SDG by the end of December 2018 compared to 20.7412 SDG by the end of September 2018 and compare to 8.4546 SDG by the end of December 2017”(Economic Commentary).

The civilians of Sudan must be patient and persevere, pursuing a smooth and steady transition. In any context, immediate change from a system that has been imposed for an extended period to a totally different system, on a large scale, will have negative effects and a higher chance of failure. In the 1960’s, Uganda had a president and a democratic system; however, the system was not built on a stable foundation and so collapsed when the General used his military forces to usurp power. Using this information, one can conclude that in order to have a chance at a successful democracy, a nation must take the time and diligence to set up systems to uphold and protect the democracy (Evans). Additionally, Sudan exists in a continent where democratic systems are rarely set up. According to Fundamental Challenges to Democratic Transitions, “African politics has been described as a matter of personality, not programs, especially under single-party systems. In the Ethiopia workshop, one participant indicated that rulers have tended to encourage personality cults by having their portraits prominently and extensively displayed, assuming folk titles, and encouraging the use of slogans: The idea of the president as the father of the nation, the big man, or being above the law is the prevailing political culture in Africa”(Challenges to Democratic Transitions).

If the people of Sudan decide to dissolve the military government and immediately impose a democracy, then the nation is likely to return to a dictatorship. A lower standard of living, a decimated economy and weak systems are extremely potential outcomes. Nonetheless, the people of Sudan should not be discouraged and continue to fight for their basic human rights.

Works Cited

  • Diamond, Larry. ‘Beyond Autocracy in Africa.’ (1989).
  • Evans, Nikkie. ‘Failed Democratic Governments That Collapsed Into Dictatorships.’ The Swamp Media (2017).
  • “Economic Commentary.” Economic & Financial Systems Review , Dec. 2018, pp. 5–5