The Sudanese army and politics (1)

Political arguments, debates and even peaceful conflicts among the political parties in the media are normal, expected and accepted. Actually, they are desirable and required because they give vitality to the political scene, and they are useful especially when their content addresses the mind of the reader, listener or viewer, introducing him/her to new values and ideals, and when this content does not concern with the ego, an individual or an institution such as a party, but concerns with the domination of human values and the consensus and unity on the issues of the homeland and society, and when all of this is expressed in a language that embodies the meaning of difference in light of mutual respect, no matter how the language used is harsh and tough. The political arguments and debates that descend into the quagmire of wrangling and falling in verbal violence, are definitely abhorrent because their content does not address one’s mind and consciousness but rather her/his instincts, and they are of no benefit to either party, and often appear contrary to what is hidden in order to conceal something or to camouflage and distract the attention, and they always come as a result of inability and failure to address the crises of the homeland and society. Usually, such political arguments and debates are focusing on the ego, personalization and slandering the other, thus turning the discussions into a futile exercise. They usually grow and flourish at the critical junctures in which politics is dulled.
If the state of the conflicting and antagonizing political arguments and debates in the media between the political parties is within the normal nature of their relations, then, definitely the army, or military institution, should never be involved in such practice, and it should not behave as if it is a political party! I am saying this because in the last weeks we witnessed such behavior from high rank officers in the Sudanese army, one of them is the spokesperson of the military component in the Sovereignty Council, the other is the editor-in-chief of the official newspaper of the Sudanese army. Both of them entered into an open hostile political debate in the media with the political parties. I do believe that this is a very serious matter, and it doesn’t go with the rules and the tradition of the army as a national nonpartizan institution. I think it can be looked upon as a misdemeanor that requires legal accountability within the institution and according to its laws, or at least it requires the intervention of the commander in chief to control the language and the content of the statements according to the traditions of the well-known military discipline, unless these statements were made with the knowledge, or the orders, of the commander in chief, and in this case, it is a disaster. It is true that the members of the regular forces, just like all citizens of the country, enjoy the right to have their own political views and positions, but because of the sensitive nature of the military institution, being a national institution, its systems and internal regulations, as well as the constitution of the country, prohibit these members from publicly expressing their political views or confronting this or that political party.
It is true that all the constitutions that Sudan has witnessed since the dawn of its independence, as well as the charters and the documents of various political agreements, stipulate a unified national Sudanese army that should never be involved into politics. But, does this actually go with reality? We will explore that in the coming articles.
Dr. Elshafie Khidir Saeid

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