The war in Sudan has made the need for unity among the country’s civil groups all the more clear.
Consensus is vital if there is ever to be effective political opposition to the fighting, and it will not be easy to achieve in a country torn apart by factionalisation and violence.
Politicians have debated how to unite more urgently since fighting broke out in April. But such discussions go back to the coup in October 2021, which brought back military rule and ended the transitional government, which was charged with restoring democracy.
After working together during the coup, the regular Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces militia were on course for conflict.
The coup came about after the country’s fragmented civil political groups could not work together and create a stable framework for government, with the Transitional Council riven with factions. The subsequent descent into civil war shows clearly what was at stake then, and unity is needed now to end the violence.
But Sudan’s political parties have a history of being unable to work together. Disagreements hobbled the work of the transitional government. What was once an influential political group – the Forces for Freedom and Change – descended into squabbles over government posts. It was riven with arguments over how to share control over parts of the government with different ideological groups — each determined to pursue their various agendas.
Demonstrations and an impasse
Rallies and demonstrations were held – similar to those that stoked wider widespread protests and the downfall of the Omar al-Bashir regime in 2019 – but this time, they were merely being used to influence government appointments or provincial politics.
This obstructed the actual government business, opening the way for the coup. The political impasse led to citizens appealing to the regular army and the RSF for assistance in getting things done and gave both a thirst for power.
After the war broke out, the lack of unity among civil groups persisted. It gave the international community cover for its own ineffective response to the violence.
While that was no more than an excuse, with civil groups uninvolved in talks about ending the fighting, long-term peace and stability in the country depend on functioning politics.
Faltering unity and false accusations
There have been attempts at unifying the country’s political groups as the war rages on, but they have not made much difference so far.