Many are wary of new turmoil after the long civil war and are bracing for a worsening economy. Sudanese also remember how unrest against Gen. Bashir’s predecessors led to military coups, bringing Sudanese “back to square one,” Mr. Haj Ali said.
Fear of breakup
Sudanese and the region worry of further fragmentation, with separatist movements not only in Darfur but also in the east and the south.
“What remains of Sudan may not hold as one bloc and may become so unstable it reflects on neighboring countries,” Mr. Haj Ali said.
As a result, regional powers — and the United States — may prefer “to deal with the regime in its current condition and not be embroiled in further crises,” he said.
Sudan came close to war with South Sudan early this year. With the two sides in protracted negotiations over oil-sharing and borders, Gen. Bashir’s regime can drum up public support with anti-South Sudan rhetoric.
Sudan’s crushing economic crisis has given youth groups a tool to galvanize the public behind their protest movement.
After years of a boom fueled by southern oil, Sudan has reeled since South Sudan’s independence. The crisis is threatening to worsen under austerity measures recommended by the International Monetary Fund to deal with shrinking resources.
Inflation is expected to rise further. Electricity bills are going up, and consumer groups are urging a boycott of meat and poultry because of skyrocketing prices. The currency has lost nearly half its value since January.
The youth groups, some of them working since 2009, put together a movement through social media and university activism. It links disgruntled communities of Darfuris and others who live in the capital of Khartoum.
On June 16, protests erupted. Female students marched in Khartoum University. Male students joined them, and together they moved into the streets of the capital. Over the next six days, protests broke out at universities in Khartoum and other cities. By Friday of that week, regular citizens in Khartoum joined them, coming out from mosques in marches that numbered several thousand.
“The people demand the downfall of the regime,” some chanted, a refrain heard in other Arab uprisings.
Throughout the week, police struck back with tear gas and rubber bullets and, in at least one instance, live ammunition, according to the London-based Sudanese rights group the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies. Several students were seriously injured.
The movement planned nationwide protests on June 30, coinciding with regime celebrations for the anniversary of Gen. Bashir’s coming to power. Under a security clampdown, protesters managed only a small turnout, but anniversary parades were canceled with so many troops in the streets.