Urbanization and the future of Sudan
Posted on behalf of Munzoul Assal
Despite decades of war,
What is the implication of urbanization for the prospects of democratic transformation in
When the CPA was signed, many anticipated that
The failure of integration in
The ability of urbanization to foster national unity and integration is predicated on a theory of the "melting pot" whereby ethnic and tribal loyalties fade away over time, giving way to identifications that cut across different ethnic, regional or tribal boundaries. But
Pathological urbanization also affects long-term city residents Along with the pressure on urban services, the economic liberalization policies adopted during early 1990s led to a process of pauperization of middle class in the country as a whole. The Sudanese middle class that has historically been so politically influential is disappearing. Their shoes are filled by some "nouveau riches" who are closely allied to the ruling National Congress Party and, recently, the SPLM. This new class is unlikely to play a positive role in democratic transformation, wedded as it is to state patronage on an individual basis. Their interests lie in parasitic forms of capitalism rather than collective action. Disenchanted members of the old middle class have few choices: continue living in the country with ever dwindling possibilities, engage in multiple memberships in the newly emerging civil society forms, or leave the country altogether.
While old political affiliations are weakening, and ethnic or tribal identities are resurgent, the voting patterns of the city electorates are unclear. One thing that is positive about urbanization is the rising consciousness about rights. Thanks to the emerging civil society organizations that articulate the rights of marginalized segments. The rising awareness about rights suggests that voters will make new demands on their electoral candidates. Realizing the importance of the urban vote—and the fact that southerners in the north may determine the outcome of the 2011 referendum on self-determination in the south, political parties are adapting their messages accordingly.
Civil society organizations (CSOs), national NGOs and a variety of other groups are proliferating in urban areas. By the end of 2005, there were 1194 registered civil society organizations, in addition to 194 foreign NGOs, all physically located in
So far urbanization has not led to fostering national unity, and major cities like