Note: This op-ed originally appeared in The Washington Post and was written by The Sentry’s co-founders, George Clooney and John Prendergast.
For the past decade, governments around the world lined up to legitimize the regime of Omar Hassan al-Bashir in Sudan — even as it continued to attack civilians in Darfur, burn Christian churches, deny food to areas of the Nuba Mountains, provide support to extremist groups, and arrest and tortureprotesters. Instead of confronting these abuses, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the African Union, China, Russia and Persian Gulf countries all sought ways to strengthen relations with his government.
Only one constituency stood up to Bashir and his allied generals: the Sudanese people themselves. After years of organizing and resisting, Sudan’s pro-reform social movement catalyzed protests across the country, resulting in a “palace coup ” on Thursday . Bashir was replaced by his ally and defense minister, Awad Ibn Auf, who has been sanctioned for his role in genocidal crimes in Darfur. The next day, he was replaced by another military leader, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan.
This chain of succession is a move straight out of the autocratic playbook, in which a regime perpetuates itself by changing the figurehead at the top without changing the violent, corruption-fueled system beneath.
The protesters were not fooled, and they have continued their mass demonstrations despite warnings and curfews from Ibn Auf and conciliatory appeals from Burhan. Though Burhan has said the military council would name a civilian prime minister and cabinet, he has not committed to installing a civilian president. Allowing the army to oversee a transition to democracy, even in a more limited capacity, would be like having the foxes oversee improvements to the henhouse and could undermine efforts at rooting out corruption and state-sponsored violence, the twin hallmarks of three decades of military rule in Sudan…
Click here to read the full op-ed.