As the world watches what becomes of Sudan, the African Union has totally rejected the military council’s seizure of power. Through its Peace and Security Council, which held its 840th meeting, the AU has demanded that “the Sudanese military step aside and hand over power to a transitional, civilian-led political authority, in accordance with the will of the people and constitutional order, within a maximum period of fifteen (15) days from the date of the adoption of the present communiqué, failing which, Council will automatically apply Article 7(g) of its Protocol, in particular the suspension of the participation of the Sudan in all AU’s activities until the restoration of constitutional order.”
Four months of protest by the Sudanese people culminated in the removal of Omar Al-Bashir as the president of their country. However, his regime was still hanging on – and this included his former Minister of Defence, Awad Ibn Auf, who headed the military council. Ibn Auf suspended the constitution, enforced a 10pm to 4am curfew and said the military council would rule for two years, after which it would hand over to a civilian government.
His announcement was followed by more protests, which saw large gatherings of men, women and children in Khartoum, demanding a civilian council. Lower-ranked officers and ordinary soldiers joined the protesters, and even defended them against the militia. Ibn Auf stepped down after one day. This is in contrast to Zimbabwe, which succeeded in removing Robert Mugabe from power but failed to focus on the total removal of his regime, especially the mastermind behind the scenes, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Similarly, protests in Algeria resulted in the removal from power of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after 20 years. Abdelkader Bensalah, the Speaker of the upper house of assembly and considered to be Bouteflika’s right-hand man, is currently the interim president. Protesters have remained on the streets, taking over the city of Algiers, waving placards and chanting, “You have eaten the country, you thieves!” and “The people want you all to leave!”.
For many African countries, the protests in Sudan and Algeria are a wake-up call that reminds us of the power of the people. These events are also a show of determination in the fight for justice, democracy and freedom, as dictated by the people. Many Africans have commented on which leader they think should be next to fall from power.
The realisation that peaceful protest and occupying the streets can lead to change is one thing. More important is that continued and sustained protest might be required to ensure the kind of change that the people want.