OMG!! Bashir won’t run for re-election! In 2015 (which is a bit of a Yemeni-esque get-out clause.) He also, more interestingly, has said he has offered to step down as head of the NCP, and has offered a package of reforms (optimistically called democratic by the Guardian, but then they’re probably all a bit sleep-deprived from the Tunisia-Egypt-Libya-Bahrain late-night live blogging).
This isn’t just about the fear of protests by youth in Sudan: the attempted protests in early February were comprehensively put down, with large-scale arrests, one death and a more general lack of will for the scale and type of protests seen in previous periods of economic crisis and political anger. That isn’t to say there isn’t a need for this kind of announcement. While I don’t think the various factions of the NCP are as nervous as the SPLM about their position, they also know they have real issues with their support base, particularly with the middle and upper classes that were their primary support base in the 1980s.
As Magdi says, the social and economic forces that brought the NCP to power have also restructured both urban and rural society. There are significant frustrations in town and countryside with different aspects of the NCP rule, as well as the medium-term issues facing the economy – partly to do with how much the North can get out of GoSS for oil transit – and probably the changed international situation, particularly if Gaddafi goes.
There is an international trend towards younger leaders – whether or not they have the experience, or even the power. There’s also more practical considerations: the NCP are handicapped by Bashir’s ICC status, regardless of the charge’s actual weight or implications. The NCP are failing, and their elite sponsors and support base know that some changes are necessary, at least for appearances’ sake. This also potentially would undermine the opposition parties’ refusal to enter talks with the NCP. I don’t know – I’m just watching, and I would love to see a good analysis of this. I’m still learning about northern politics.