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Why Sudan needs a slow transition

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Although Sudan has witnessed two previous revolutions since independence, it has not had much luck with democratic transitions.

After the 1964 and 1985 popular uprisings, civil wars continued to rage, material changes were not forthcoming for ordinary families, and no robust economic plans were set in motion. Lasting democratic reforms never materialised.

In both cases, the revolutionary movements were led by mostly urban, professional elites, dominated by men, and were largely ideologically informed. As a result, neither of these uprisings managed to create a nationwide front that was inclusive of all socioeconomic classes and ethnic and religious groups that could withstand pressure from counter-revolutionary forces and ensure that the major societal divides which fuelled violence were mended.

A major takeaway from those two periods was that the weak link in post-uprising political processes was self-interested political parties. Their failures led to the country sliding back into autocratic military rule in 1969 and again in 1989.

Today, Sudan's revolutionary movement must take care not to repeat the mistakes of the past by rushing into a quick takeover of power.

Decades of authoritarian rule have left a toxic legacy of conflict, state capture, weakened institutions, a decimated opposition, and deep public distrust. It will take a lot of time to overcome all these challenges so the solid foundations of a successful, peaceful civilian transition can be laid.

Building the new country the Sudanese protesters are dreaming of will be a slow, lengthy and fraught process which cannot and should not be expected to end with the first election.

Dismantling a toxic legacy

Having successfully achieved that which multiple armed groups, outside interests (at various points) and years of bilateral high-level negotiations were unable to - the removal of President Omar al-Bashir - Sudan's protest movement now faces the formidable task of dismantling his regime and undoing all the wrongs it had done.

One of the major issues protesters will have to face are the consequences of Sudan never undergoing a full-scale intentional nation-building project since independence. Its borders, drawn largely through imperial conquest and bargains, circumscribed an area of almost 2.5 million square kilometres and locked in dozens of tribes and ethnic groups who were supposed to get on with the business of becoming "Sudanese" on their own.

State-building in Sudan followed the typical decolonial story of cultural elites seizing and maintaining power and marginalising those who did not share with them the same identity or socioeconomic class. Naturally, this resulted in social upheaval and conflict that plagues the country to this day.

Subsequent "peace-building" efforts have failed because they too were negotiated by and for the elites. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, which ostensibly ended the 22-year civil........

© Al Jazeera