Sudan: a coup with an uncertain future

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A dictatorship was overthrown with a military coup. Now, the civilian population demands that the opposition also be included in the transition government

Sudan: a coup with an uncertain future

After periods of great civil mobilizations and coups, history has shown that the process of transition to another type of government can be even more problematic. There are several examples: the French Revolution that opened the way to the Terror of Robespierre period and eventually to the Napoleonic dictatorship; the Arab spring that overthrew inveterate governments, but that later let the military establish themselves in power, as in Egypt. Ultimately, in these points of political instability, the line between democracy and another form of dictatorship is very thin.

Leer en español: Sudán: un golpe de Estado con futuro incierto

Currently, we are witnessing this process that follows a coup d'état when we look at sub-Saharan East Africa and we find Sudan. In this country, in the middle of the zone of influence of the most orthodox Arab governments (Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia), the Omar Al Bashir government was overthrown on April 11. After 30 years in the power of a country with 70% annual inflation; after, as France 24 states, since 1989 it had "repressed dissidents, regularly replaced senior officials and divided the security apparatus into competing units"; Al Bashir fell to the military who finally decided to favor the demonstrations that had taken place in the country since the end of 2018.

Specifically, it all started when, according to France Info, the government decided to triple the price of bread on December 19. This caused the indignation of the people who took to the streets with this economic change in mind, but whose demands did not take long to become the resignation of Al Bashir. The pressure continued to increase, so much so that in February the president declared a state of emergency, dismissed a good part of his government and even agreed to release some political prisoners, El País recalled. We must also remember, with France 24, that Al Bashir was protected by his presidential status from the International Criminal Court, who had ordered his arrest for crimes against humanity in 2009 and genocide in 2010.

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Finally, April arrived and with it, the capture of the General Headquarters that is annexed to the presidential residence in Khartoum, the capital of the country. This place became a symbol of the resistance that, in the end, strengthened the demonstrators, to which is added the spirit they obtained with the fall of Buteflika in Algeria. A few days later, low-ranking military officers joined in the protests until finally, the top brass took over the Presidential Palace.

Overthrow and first weeks of negotiations

On April 11, Vice President Awad Ibn Awf was in charge of giving the news: Al Bashir had been arrested and the armed forces will take over for two years and will also suspend the constitution , El País reported. On the same day, the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISS) assured that there would be "the release of 'all the political prisoners' of the country, dozens of whom began to leave the jails this morning," which was received as a good news and increased the celebration of the town.

As president of the Military Council that was established, was General Abdelfattá Al-Burhan, who sworn less than 24 hours later and "committed to establish a completely civil government and the role of the military council will be to maintain the sovereignty of the country" , so it would promote "a peaceful transition of power".

However, the civil opposition suspected the intentions of the military and, led by the Association of Sudanese Professionals (SPA), called on people to continue on the streets until the situation was clarified with the slogan "Protect your revolution" . As stated by France Info, the student part of the uprising movement, Alaa Salah, "people do not want a transitional military council (...) but a civil council".

The talks between the opposition and the military began, and at the end of April, they reached a deal to constitute a council with military and civilian members for May halves that they would command for a period of three years. However, the tensions began when defining how they were going to distribute power and which group would have greater participation.

These differences each became more evident, which led to the discussions being blocked on May 20 and and on the 28 and 29 the opposition will organize a general strike to put pressure on the military. Likewise, we must take into account the 'lobbying' that both Al-Burhan and the second military under the shadow of power, Muhammad Hamdán Dagolo, known Hermetti and who led the Yanyauid militia in the genocide of Darfur during the 2000s, was with influential countries of the region like Saudi Arabia, famous for the support to authoritarian governments to guarantee the stability of the area.

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June and the resurgence of violence

On June 3, the tension that had accumulated when the CMT military attacked the demonstrators of the General Headquarters, where they had previously supported them to overthrow Al Bashir, exploded. As stated by France 24, the military had the mission to evict the occupation, for which they used real bullets, tear gas and even set fire to the tents they had installed. At least 124 people were killed and more than 700 injured , according to the latest records later collected by The Guardian.

As expected, the military denied that it was an attack and only claimed that its target was a dangerous area near the barracks square, which they described as a 'home of corruption and illegal activities', according to France Info.

Consequence: the next day, Al-Burhan announced on national television that the negotiations for the civil council were canceled and that the call for elections was postponed for nine months under regional and international supervision and that, in the meantime, they would form a emergency government. He even blamed the civil group Alliance for Freedom and Change (ALC) for lack of will to reach an agreement. In other words, "democracy under military control, that is the proposal of the CMT to the demands of a civil transition of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, which brings together the democratic forces", sums up El País.

Despite this disagreement, in the last few days there seems to have been more mediation mainly thanks to Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who met with military and opposition members. He proposed the creation of a transitional authority "composed of 15 members, of which eight would be civilians and seven military, with a rotating presidency," said El País. Apparently this has worked, since the military junta agreed to resume negotiations.


LatinAmerican Post | Juan Gabriel Bocanegra

Copy edited by Juliana Suárez

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