British Ambassador to Sudan: ‘Revolution is the choice of the people’
The British Ambassador to Sudan, Irfan Siddiq, has just marked the one-year anniversary of his appointment. In a piece entitled Freedom, Peace and Justice. Revolution is the Choice of the People on the website of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Siddiq speaks of the changes he has seen since he took-up the position, and recounts his impressions on visiting the sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum, that has been maintained since April 6.
Siddiq reflects that a year ago, “I could not have imagined finding myself in the situation we are in now. Sudan had experienced 30 years of authoritarian rule. These were 30 years of conflict and secession, of repression and extremism, of sanctions and isolation, of corruption and mismanagement, of impoverishment and lost opportunity. After such a period of inertia and crushed hope, few observers expected the harvest of this era of oppression to be a revolution.
‘Through sheer force of will and breath-taking courage they [the Sudanese people] toppled the head of the regime that seemed for so long to be untouchable’ – British Ambassador Irfan Siddiq
“But despite their suffering, the pride, dignity, and determination of the Sudanese people remained intact. And this month, through sheer force of will and breath-taking courage they toppled the head of the regime that seemed for so long to be untouchable.”
Siddiq says he visited the site of the protest for the first time last week. “It is an awesome sight. The roads leading up to the site throng with people heading to and fro. As you approach the area, the thrum of activity is punctuated by the piercing percussion of the ‘youth of the bridge’. Young men incessantly and hypnotically drumming on the steel railing of the bridge to build a rhythm of urgency and intensity to the presence of the crowd.”
The ambassador remarks that “the level of organisation that has developed at the site is hugely impressive”, and speaks of “a burst of civic initiative and collective endeavour to inspire the most cynical about the capacities that exist within Sudan to build, create and support, if unleashed and allowed to flourish.”
Siddiq stresses: "We have been clear from the start that this opportunity for change needs to be seized. After such a long period of failed governance, Sudan has a chance to start afresh. To build a state that is inclusive, at peace, sharing power and wealth, protecting rights, promoting freedoms, responsive to the needs of the people. But to achieve this, it needs a break from the past. It needs a new social and political contract. One based on consent, legitimacy and the will of the people.”
‘The protestors remain at their sit in. Day and night… Their courage and commitment is an inspiration’ – British Ambassador Irfan Siddiq
He points out that “the protestors remain at their sit in. Day and night. They are being bolstered by new arrivals from other parts of the country. Ramadan is almost upon us. But they are unfazed. They will fast at the site. Led by the women and youth who have been disenfranchised the most by the former regime. Their future held hostage by the failures of the former regime. They are determined to persevere and stay as long as it takes to complete their revolution. Their courage and commitment is an inspiration. It is an honour and a privilege to be a witness to it.”
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