Sudan Trade Unions: The Nucleus of the Civil Front Against the War
Dr. Elshafie Khidir Saeed
True, the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces are the two main parties that must bear responsibility for ending the disastrous warfare that has raged from Darfur to Khartoum that have suffered catastrophic destruction since last April. It is also true that saving civilian lives and preventing the catastrophe in Sudan cannot be accomplished through condemnations alone but rather requires direct
intervention by the international and regional community to enforce a cessation of hostilities through negotiation or force.
There is no doubt, however, that the civil and political forces of Sudan should play a significant role in opposing this massive crime and ending this conflict, which was ignited by individuals who do not have the least sense of patriotic, humanitarian, or moral responsibility. The only strength of the civil and political forces is in their ability to work together and stay steadfastly committed to their stance, which is to reject war and any malicious calls for its continuation.
Since the very beginning, when the first shot was fired in Khartoum, these forces, along with their various components, have been engaged in this course of action. Despite the sound of bullets and shrapnel flying overhead, a group of trade union bodies convened at the Sudanese Journalists Syndicate and agreed to stand against the war and oppose attempts to sow discord in the country. Then came moves and calls from various groups to form a unified bloc or a broader civil front against the war and the destruction of our nation. These activities and calls led to the announcement of the founding statement of the "Civil Front to Stop War and Restore Democracy" on April 27, 2023, with the signatures of a wide range of organizations, including resistance committees, trade union organizations, demand and professional bodies, women's organizations, the Forces for Freedom and Change (the Central Council), a group of political parties and organizations, some armed movements and an estimated number of public figures.
Although the front initiated the formation of specialized committees and issued a number of statements, its activity quickly waned, possibly due to the fluidity of its structure and the absence of a unified vision on the organizational structure of the front, the lack of agreement on how decisions are made and how work is managed within it, as well as the absence of an action plan. Unfortunately, it soon exacerbated the Front's faltering activity when it was accused of hijacking its decisions by certain components, which paved the way for the beginning of fragmentation and the disruption of its structure by some of its components declaring to withdraw from it, while other components rushed to search and engage in similar initiatives, which demonstrates their lack of conviction in the Front, and that their involvement in the Front demonstrates their lack of conviction
in the Front and their participation did not exceed initial signatures on its founding statement.
The patriotism and eligibility of the founding forces of the civil front to end the war and restore democracy cannot be questioned, just as its proposed objectives cannot be disregarded, as they are exactly the same to those of any anti-war frontal project. Nonetheless, it appears essential to emphasize the importance that of the work mechanisms within the front, including the decision-making process should have the participation and oversight of all its components. And considering the nature of the current Sudanese civil and political forces and the nature of their relationships, which were objectively affected by the repercussions of the political situation in the country, particularly after the coup of October 25, 2021, I believe that the formula for coordination between the components, and not the hierarchical organizational structure, should be adopted in constructing a united civil front against the war.
In these circumstances, we were extremely pleased when a group of Sudanese unions issued a press release on Monday, June 26, announcing the formation of a trade union front to stop the war and rebuild democracy, as a nucleus or a first step towards forming a broader civil alliance based on Sudanese civil society and in coordination with Sudanese political organizations and parties.
The objectives of the trade union front included working to unify the Sudanese civil forces to press for an immediate end to the war and to complete the glorious December revolution, the withdrawal of the armed forces from the political and economic scene, the dissolution of the Rapid Support Forces and all parallel armies and militias, and the preservation and defense of Sudan’s unity, sovereignty, and institutions through the Sudanese national army, in addition to denouncing all forms of racial, regional, and gender discrimination in the country.
What is unique about this announcement, and the source of our enthusiasm, is that the founding initiative came from democratically elected trade union, namely the Sudan Doctors Syndicate, the Journalists Syndicate, the Syndicate of Professors of Zaim Al-Azhari University, and the Syndicate of Professors of Nyala University, in addition to the steering committees of the Engineers and Teachers Syndicats. At the time of writing this article, it is anticipated that more unions and federations will join the founding nucleus of the Civil Front, whose next
step will hopefully be to invite the Sudanese political forces to participate in accordance with the appropriate coordination mechanisms. It is well-known that trade unions and professional bodies have been a major force in dictating the national agenda throughout the country's history. They have also served as the backbone of all revolutions and uprisings in Sudan, and have enjoyed the public's trust and the ability to create a broader sense of unity among the various components of Sudanese society in opposition to the war.