Volume 1, Issue 2, November 2001
The Sudan Dilemma and the Concept of Democracy (Part 1)
By Sudan National Party (Cairo Branch)
The Sudan has been suffering throughout its modern political history from the dilemma of government systems. The active political parties could not crystallise any clear-cut principle. It is true that some political powers had called for democracy as a system of government, but they failed to define the true democracy and the way to practice it. Furthermore, they did not have efficient competence to run the country’s affairs democratically, besides the fact that they did not attempt to create any sort of culture nor an ongoing democratic know-how to grasp the complexities of the real situation going on in the Sudan. The political parties never believed in institutionalisation in their internal structure, and consequently this had an adverse effect on the political structure of the civil state.
It is noticed that the political history has witnessed several conspiracies carried out by certain political parties against opponent parties in power through scandalous and collaboration with the military institution, which was always lenient and at their fingertips to interfere with the system of government as in 1958-1969 and 1989.
These powers, we believe, did not understand the nature and reality of the Sudanese society well, and they will always lack the ability to analyse its sickness in order to describe the appropriate remedy. As result the following problems emerged:
(i) A culture of violence has been established in such a way that it became a means for violation of power in the Sudan.
(ii) The degree of violence has been built up to the extent that some political parties were forced to resort to weapons and violence to achieve self-assurance and to restore their rights of which they had been robbed.
Owing to this political tension and instability the Sudanese National Party emphasises that, unless the main political parties sort out a framework of cultural knowledge both theoretically and practically, it would be difficult to accept the differences of opinions and to control the causes of political violence. The Sudanese National Party further stresses the urgent need for sound political attitudes, and points out in this respect the need for democracy that stems initially from the beliefs and values of a true Sudanese society, which is characterised with diversity and heterogeneity of culture, ethnicity, religion and politics.
The diversity is also obvious in other aspects such as differences in climate and the great number of tribes and religions. The majority of ethnic groups are of African (black) origin and Arab origin. The religion of the majority is Islam, then comes Christianity besides other indigenous beliefs, which had existed for some time and later abandoned. Culturally the Sudan is also as diverse as the ethnic groups. There are different vernaculars used as a means of communication. Politically there are various ideological trends resulting in the formation of political parties and effective political powers.
This diversity has logically been the outcome of the nature of the Sudanese culture, which has enriched human existence in the Sudan and created a foundation for peaceful co-existence between the ethnic groups and different cultures.
The Sudanese National Party takes into consideration the nature of Sudan as seen above and considers democracy in its fundamental concepts which is defined as the recognition of the other individual and his right to disagree in accordance with diversified political scenarios.
The SNP thus presents its concept of democracy, which is in reality a re-exploration of the existence and practice of democracy.
Democracy is a human concept which has developed over the history of mankind. Our ancestors defined it as follows:
"Democracy is the governing of peoples by and in the interest of the peoples". This definition although considered ideal has not yet been put into practice. Despite this fact something must be done to move forward into democracy literally as well as practically as democracy is a relative matter and a gradual historical process.
Democracy begins when society is capable of controlling the sources of violence and of turning all aspects of disagreement in a peaceful way, whereby it will demonstrate the consensus of the effective powers to ensure the minimum level of political participation for all the citizens without any exception or prejudice.
The quality of the process in the democracy is improved and developed though the democratic practice. This development creates a stable culture, impacting generally on behaviour as a measure of maturity and civilisation of the society.
The current minimum level of people in democracy nowadays is achieved when the majority rule prevails compared with alternative government systems existent in the world, for instance autocratic government systems either in the form of extreme individual government or the government of the minority.
The majority will be qualified to assure the attributes of democracy when the general decisions in that the system are taken by the majority of people. In addition to the majority government system is transformed to the peoples government system step by step by means of widening the span of effective political participation and through the culture of democracy, which would result in the establishment of stable constitutional institutions that will play active role in establishing a powerful society with more abilities to control the authority of its government, the society should also make sure that government decisions are in the best interest of the public at large.
According to the conclusions we have just reached it could be noticed that the system of government of the majority as opposed to its available alternative prevailing in the world nowadays has two main characteristics:
Firstly, the increase in the scope of citizenship rights including all groups of society in its totally, and that such rights are acquired by all citizens indefinitely.
Secondly, the rights of citizenship include the freedom of the citizen to topple the highest executive official on the government from his post by way of voting against him in the general election. Such a system will only exist if the following two categories of institutions exist as well:
In the first place there should be institutions concerned with elections with the view of ensuring that the decisions of the democratic state and its policies are vested in the authorities of the officials that have been chosen by way of a free and non-biased election.
Secondly, there should institutions which are concerned with protecting the public freedom in the following aspects:
(a) The right to express ideas and criticise constructively without fear of exposure to severe punishments.
(b) The right to acquire information other than information available officially, and the protection of sources of alternative information, and the freedom for independent organising including the right to form political parties and interest groups
Therefore, the fundamentals of democracy revolve around the idea that it is a system whereby decisions are reached in such a way that they become compulsory for a certain group of people whose members are ensured to have a right of effective participation either directly or indirectly to take compulsory decisions.
The democratic group according to this concept can be a state, an association, a political party. Or even a public organisation.
The SNP takes the view that the democratic system of government is essentially a system of government controlled by procedures that express its compliance with a number of democratic principles derived from the constitutional institutions. These institutions are meant to enable individuals to participate in the process of collective and binding democratic decisions. This is the only attribute that distinguishes the democratic system from other alternative systems of government referred to previously.
The contents of the democratic decisions is the concern of the democratic decision makers, such concern is dependent on their ideologies as identifies by the contribution, is derived from customs and religious values respected by the individuals in the society. The society will try to put into practice through democracy such beliefs and demonstrate that in the form economy and social systems.
Therefore, democracy must abide the constitution that secures and maintains the fundamental on which sufficient consensus is based and which will realise the stability of the Sudanese society and the continuity of its ability to react positively and advantageously to its differences of opinion.
From all the above we conclude that the SNP perceives democracy as a method that is adapted and commensurate with the different beliefs of society, and considers the special circumstances, governing these societies, so long as these beliefs do not confer any godly rights on the people. Also they do not establish superiority; neither do they allegedly be error-free nor grant any right of command to an individual, a minority or even a majority over other people.
TO BE CONTINUED...