(Published in Toward Freedom; Feb. 21st, 2019)

Demonstrators in Khartoum march to protest against the Sudanese government’s subsidies cuts and austerity measures on January 16, 2018. Credit: Sudan Tribune / HRW

In December 2016, when activists in Sudan called for a two-day protest to oppose the then spike of prices, including stay-at-home strike, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir challengedthem to come out to the streets: “This regime will not be overthrown by keyboards and WhatsApp.”

That is exactly what protesters did two years later. Sudan has been ravaged with protests since mid-December 2018. People are taking the streets daily to demand Bashir step down after 30 bleak years of deplorable economic conditions and a dire political situation.

The embattled president recently uttered a similar but re-packaged message. Exactly in the same town of Kassala, which seems his only base of support, he told his supporters: “Changing the government and changing the president will not be through WhatsApp nor Facebook, but will be through the ballot box.”

Sudanese people are very much aware of Bashir’s sham elections where average voters could not even name a single contender. The tyrant neither arrived nor stayed for 30 years in power with ballots. In addition, Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

Unlike 2016, when protesters scattered after the president’s challenge, this time they were prepared to face live ammunition and tear gas, unarmed. Click here to read the whole article.

(Published in The Athens News; Nov. 23, 2016)

The global surge of populist leaders foreshadowed the rise of Donald Trump. In seemingly bold defiance against establishments, many countries have been lining up behind populist leaders with their false albeit seductive promises.

They include India’s Narendra Modi who proposes to tackle climate change through yoga; Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkeywith his recent crackdown on the news media, educational establishment and the military, among other social institutions; Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines who publicly said, “EU, f**k you”; and the populist Brexiter Nigel Farage.

There are plenty of examples of populist leaders creating political chaos. Check the media tycoon and convicted tax-fraudster who led Italy as prime minister for nine meddled years, the controversial Silvio Berlusconi. He used to claim he did not need to work as he is rich, but he was serving out of love for Italy to save it from the left. Or how about Muammar Gaddafi of Libya who argued in his manifesto, The Green Book, that “soccer is not democratic enough as it is not fair for thousands of spectators to watch only 22 players.”

And then we have Saddam Hussein of Iraq who claimed to have transcribed the Qu’ran with seven gallons of his own blood. Click here to read the article