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Stubborn Historical Legacies: Power Relations and Government Policy in Sudan

Nada Ali ()
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Nada Ali: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

No 1551, Working Papers from Economic Research Forum

Abstract: Despite Sudan’s legacy of abrupt but successful popular uprisings, the country has failed to date to chart a path towards sustainable democracy. This paper seeks, through a review of Sudan’s contemporary political history, to understand the failures of successive democratic governments to pursue an effective program of nation building, ensure peace and move the country out of this dysfunctional cycle of long autocratic military rule, interrupted by popular uprisings and failed democratic transitions. Theoretical literature in this area is neither uniform nor discipline-specific. This paper uses insights from political science, sociology and economics to reach conclusions. Apart from economist who tended to focus on structural factors hindering political transitions (e.g. conflict and the relevance of oil rents) enough commentators agree that the kernel of the problem is the political elite, their decision making and behavior vis-à-vis pivotal national questions (See Khalid, 1990, De Waal 2015). We understand the relevant questions as including the conceptualization of national identity post-independence, the development of a coherent and effective citizenship construct, defining the relationship of the center to the periphery – in terms both of rights and obligations, understanding the regional and international forces affecting the internal politics in Sudan, Sudan’s position in the modern World and issues of justice and accountability for past wrongs. This approach subordinates the “economic” to the “political” in the sense that it treats the issue as a political problem which then generates economic effects such as economic stagnation, development impasse and clientelism and cronyism. We are also aware of the particular challenges facing Sudan by way of inheritance from the previous regime (See Elbattahani (2017)). These include a disintegrated state, ongoing conflicts, fragile state institutions and an ongoing economic crisis. However, if we are to learn anything from the brief periods of failed democratic rule in the 60s and 80s it ought to be that short-term solutions to long-term problems seldom work

Pages: 32
Date: 2022-05-20, Revised 2022-05-20
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-ara and nep-his
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