Points of comparison with Burkina Faso about transition if al-Bashir is ousted in Sudan

I have not followed Sudan politics in over a decade, but I do follow Burkina Faso pretty closely, and in October 2014 long-time president Blaise Compaoré was ousted by street protests. Basically, regime insiders had to choose when to run, and as more ran, Compaoré himself decided to run, and insiders who remained took the reins of power in collaboration with civilian leaders in a long one year transition marked by episodic violence. Here are a number of things to consider for a transition in Sudan, which shares many similarities (and one notable difference: much more extensive militarization of society resulting from decades of protracted ‘frontier’ wars, so some kind of disarmament might be considered, though that has been a thorny issue for South Sudan). Here’s my two cents of perspective for civilian-rule leaders, gleaned from my understanding of Burkina Faso’s experience.

  • Get dangerous insiders out of proximity to power right away. The biggest threat to the transition in Burkina Faso came in September 2015 when Gilbert Diendere, a top man in the formerly ultra-powerful presidential guard, staged a coup. He almost got away with it, but most of the regular army sided with the civilians. He and his coup comrades are now on trial. The disbanding of the presidential guard was one of the most consequential decisions the transition faced. It will always be risky. I would deal with it early and send the leaders to The Hague where they can use their wealth to hire elite lawyers.
  • Don’t worry about legality and constitutionalism. The transition leaders in Burkina (whether deliberate or not) let the issue of “what exactly is the legal status of our state) not bother them too much. The key I think is having a supreme constitutional council that will be ultimate arbiter of legality that is stacked with civilian rule promoters who will interpret the contradictory thicket of non-legality in ways that will promote consolidation of civilian rule and rule against previous regime insiders clinging to power by appealing to previous regime technicalities. The biggest issue for this court in Burkina Faso was to determine whether old regime members could participate in the elections. The court ruled in the negative.
  • Make a list of a projects and get them done expeditiously. Government is the largest employer and its multiplier is huge. A transition needs to be immediately giving out public works contracts and reducing the disruptive impact of the transition.
  • Let the media flourish. For two reasons. One is that a competitive media probably fractionalizes potential opposition to peaceful civilian rule. Spoilers need to form a coalition to regroup, but if the former regime coalition is permitted to communicate, chances are they will be less likely to plot in secret. Another is that the free media is actually a significant employer of well-educated young people, and so gives them a bigger stake in promoting a free society. An excellent review by Nael Jebril, Václav Stetka, Matthew Loveless, however, suggests there is no robust academic basis for my suggestions 😉
Posted in Burkina Faso, Sudan

My relationship to piano almost exactly described

I am not yet even close to Jennifer Weiner’s level after two years of one hour a week lessons, but I know the feeling (and the 15 year old).

I open my book to Chopin’s waltz in D flat major, the “Minute Waltz,” so called because you’re meant to play it in under a minute. Right now, I’m averaging around five. As I start the first trill my 15-year-old daughter, who these days speaks mostly in sarcasm, strolls by. Sometimes she’ll do a mocking balletic leap as I play, or just emphatically shut her bedroom door. Tonight, she does neither. “Hey, Mom,” she says, “that was really good!”It wasn’t. It was just O.K. But that is good enough.

The opinion piece is here.

Posted in Burkina Faso

December reading

The Power, by Naomi Alderman. Thrilling in its conceit and execution. Stumbles towards the end (and what ambitious book doesn’t). Nice to see an interesting short frame device (the letters) in popular fiction.

News of the World, by Paulette Jiles. It is a simple and almost maudlin story, shades of and homage to True Grit, but the violent reality of 1870s Texas leaves you feeling like each turn of the page has plucked a hair off your head and turned two more gray.

Eileen, by Ottessa Moshfegh. So cranky, so different. The prose makes you keep reading even as the throbbing gristle of a book makes you want to put it down.

Artemis, by Andy Weir. Almost unreadable. After his success with The Martian, you can just see his agent telling him to write a star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence or Emily Blunt. Basically a screenplay for a bad Hollywood movie. With lots of explosions and cliffhangers. Oh look, I was right, the movie deal was in the works even before the book came out.


Posted in Book and film reviews

Urban development in Cupertino and SB 35

The organization gained another significant victory last month when Chao won a City Council seat. A second candidate backed by Better Cupertino also appears to have secured a seat by a narrow margin, pending a recount. If the results hold, the two new members would turn the council into a 4-1 majority against the Sand Hill development.Better Cupertino wants the new council to do everything it can to stop the project from happening, including investigating claims of a former city attorney who alleges that he was dismissed from his job because he didn’t believe Sand Hill’s project qualified under state law.Meanwhile, Moulds says Sand Hill has withdrawn its support for the council-approved version of the project because of the referendum. He said Sand Hill is going ahead with the proposal allowed under state law, even though the council now has turned against it.

Source: New law could break the stalemate over housing on the site of a near-vacant Cupertino mall – Los Angeles Times

HT: Roshan!

Posted in Burkina Faso

My wife is good with faces, but I am pretty darn good with melodies

Leslie can see a face on television and within seconds recall (even ten years later) another show the person was on. But today I was working and listening to classical mix, and Ludovico Einaudi’s Nuvole Bianche comes on, and I had never heard it, and a subconscious part of my brain starts saying, “there are lyrics to this song,” and then I remember some lyrics, and took one minute to find Passenger’s Let Her Go. Seems like on the whole Internet only one other person thought this was worth mentioning. Oh well. As the person noted, probably someone owns the rights and is selectively churning it across genres. Also sounds awfully like Yiruma, (이루마) – River Flows in You.

Posted in Burkina Faso

Fulani arrested in Ghana over Burkina Faso ties?

The National Security led a joint security operatives to raid the community Wednesday dawn and arrested the 20 herdsmen after conducting house to house search reportedly for weapons.They were all flown in a helicopter back to the national capital, Accra, and are still behind by the security.The incident has caused widespread panic and fear among the Fulani community residents and many men continue to move out, Starr News found.  Kasapa News spoke to the community leader, Afa Abukari who said those arrested were accused of committing serious crimes and already wanted suspects in neighbouring Burkina Faso, where armed militants linked to terrorist group, al- Qaeda, have been carrying sporadic attacks on public buildings and military installations.  He said soldiers and policemen came to the community with trucks, a helicopter and ordered them to stand outside and searched their rooms holding guns and weapon detectors.  The community leader confirmed that all the suspects, including the sheik, Siidi Dukere, arrived in the community two months ago and approached him to accommodate them. He explained that though he has no direct relationship with the Sheikh and had not met him, he accepted to accommodate his entourage because they his tribesmen.

Source: National Security picks up top sheikh over terrorism suspicions | General News 2018-12-02

Posted in Burkina Faso

Recent reading: The Big Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

I got this for daughter but ended up reading almost all of it before her… 1162 pages of sci-fi.  I was frankly surprised at how bad a lot (most of which I had not read) of the stories were: poor prose, hackneyed themes. I guess if you were 15 in the era before computers, everything seemed new and possible, and the stories were thrilling to me back in 1977. So anyway, my six favorites (excluding Ted Chiang and Robert Reed and Ursula Le Guin who were going to win anyway….) from among the writers I had not previously read):

Baby Doll by Johanna Sinisalo: I got the idea right away, but this is a brave depiction of a near future world gone completely awry with hyper-sexualization of young girls. Farfetched? Just watch youtube.

The Slynx, by Tatyana Tolstaya: I was itching for more. Reminded me of Le Guin. The style is mix of fairly tale and anthropology, where futures are in many ways like the past, for us humans, we might well end up less informed and less smart in the dystopia to come as we collectively forget science (natural and social).

The Universe of Things by Gwyneth Jones: Quiet story about a small encounter. What would we think when alien life mixes and becomes ordinary. Better than Craphound I thought, which deals with same theme.

Crying in the Rain, by Tanith Lee: Good dystopia.

Bloodchild, by Octavia Butler: This was awesome. Thrillingly careful prose in my humble opinion.

Blood Music, by Greg Bear: This one more for the idea than the prose.

Posted in Book and film reviews