On the 31st July, the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies (CHS) hosted Mr. Khalid Omer Yousif, former minister of cabinet affairs, Member of the Sudanese Congress Party political bureau, and member of FFC executive office. Mr Yousif delivered a lecture entitled "Challenges and Opportunities for the Democratic Transition in Sudan", which was followed by a discussion moderated by Dr. Ghassan Elkahlout, Director of CHS.
After a brief introduction to the event, Mr. Youssef began his lecture by pointing out that whilst Sudan has crossed a critical juncture, it is however still going through many obstacles that impede its transition to democracy. Mr. Youssef then moved on to talk about the real opportunities for restoring the democratic path in Sudan in ways better than previous transitions throughout Sudan's history, drawing on the successful experiences of other countries. He indicated that democratic transition is in decline at the global level, with data from the Global Democracy Index for the year 2021, showing a fall in the level of democracy worldwide, with only an estimated 45% of the world's population live under a democracy.
In addition, he pointed out that even in countries ruled by a democratic system such as France, there could be alarming indicators about the future of democracy, as 80% of the French people expressed their distrust of the political parties, and in one of the opinion polls, 25% of the French people were not opposed to the army taking control over the country. These results could be caused by the disillusionment from the usual partisan politics, with the assurance that democracy is not an end but a means to improve people's lives.
Following that, Mr. Yousif gave a glimpse of the Sudanese context and pointed to the diversity of Sudanese society, which makes consensus in Sudan's democratic transition project a complex matter, and provides evidence that the country's division into two states could be continued, with Sudan divided further into smaller units. He explained that there is no alternative to democratic transformation other than democratic transformation itself, as Sudan cannot be ruled by one party or one culture. He believes that democratic transition in Sudan is a necessity to end the conflict there. Moreover, he assured that the Sudanese have not retreated for a moment from their relentless pursuit of democracy.
Since the overthrowing of the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, the democratic movement has not stopped its attempts to restore the democratic system in Sudan. He mentioned that the movement that began in Sudan on December 19, 2018, or the so-called December movement, led to the expansion of the popular movement demanding the restoration of democracy in Sudan. He focused on the fact that this movement has led to a major change in the political situation in general. One of these changes is that despite the many coups that Sudan has gone through, which made the military rule not strange, the reality is different, and the idea of military rule has become more widely rejected. The December movement cemented a conviction among civilians that it is not possible to coexist under the rule of the military and it showed that the military cannot rule Sudan alone.
Mr. Yousif then moved on to talk about the details of the December movement and the trends of the active political parties and forces. He talked about the military's control of the government after reaching an agreement on the constitutional document in 2019 and the mistakes made by both the military and civilian components in this experience.
In a lively question-and-answer session, Mr. Yousif entertained critical comments and questions from the live audience, who included members of the Sudanese diaspora, journalists, Master's Students, researchers, and academics. In response, he assured of the need to broaden the base of dialogue among all Sudanese, as well as the inability of the government to carry out its tasks well. He explained that all peace agreements that were signed in Sudan had taken place under totalitarian regimes, and they were not adhered to. According to his opinion, these agreements cannot be committed without the presence of a democratic government.
In the end, the lecture emphasized that a successful democratic transition needs to accommodate the intellectual diversity and political trends within Sudan, because any transition towards democracy cannot be defined in one direction only.
The lecture is in line with CHS's commitment to humanitarian standards, promoting dialogue, collective participation, and building peace during phases of conflict and transition.