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An October 2021 coup added new dangers to the turbulent transition that followed Sudan’s 2019 ouster of Omar al-Bashir, one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders. The strongman’s toppling, prompted by a sustained, peaceful campaign by a diverse and well-organised protest movement, raised hopes that the country might make a transition to more inclusive, civilian-led rule. Military officers were however reluctant to change. Civilians blamed them for inciting an ethnic group demanding greater representation under an October 2020 peace deal to block access to Khartoum from the coast, causing crushing shortages of essentials in the capital. Sudan matters because it sits in one of the most geostrategic locations on the continent, straddling the Horn and North Africa, with a long Red Sea coastline, and serves as a historical bridge between North and sub-Saharan Africa. Through research and advocacy in Sudan, we aim to reduce the likelihood of domestic conflict by encouraging more inclusive governance and positively engaged regional and foreign policies.

CrisisWatch Sudan

Deteriorated Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Formation of new transitional govt stalled amid power struggle between military and PM Hamdok; latter’s resignation would leave military in full control of transition; intercommunal violence killed scores in Darfur. In search of independence and genuine executive authority, reinstated PM Hamdok 1 Dec replaced most caretaker deputy ministers and around 12 Dec replaced all acting state governors appointed by military since Oct coup; discussions on new govt still ongoing by month’s end as Hamdok battled to form technocratic govt as stipulated in Nov agreement with military. Media reports 21 and 27 Dec alleged Hamdok intending to resign “soon”. Several mass protests against military rule and Nov agreement between Hamdok and military leaders held throughout month in capital Khartoum and other cities met with govt crackdown. Notably, on third anniversary of popular uprising against then-President al-Bashir, hundreds of thousands 19 Dec protested in Khartoum and elsewhere to demand full civilian rule; security forces opened fire to disperse demonstrators, killing at least two and injuring over 300 while UN 21 Dec reported 13 allegations of rape and gang rape by security forces during protest. Renewed crackdown on protests 30 Dec left five killed including four in Omdurman city. U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee 9 Dec adopted Sudan Democracy Act enabling targeted sanctions against individuals undermining democratic transition. Growing instability recorded in West Darfur state. West Darfur Doctors Committee 8-9 Dec said tribal violence had in recent days killed 88 in Krink area, 25 in Jebel Moon area and eight in Sarba locality. UN Refugee Agency 7 Dec said violence in Jebel Moon alone had displaced over 10,000 since 17 Nov, with 2,000 fleeing across border into Chad; 29 Jebel Moon leaders 9 Dec signed non-aggression pact. Gunmen 28-30 Dec looted three World Food Programme (WFP) warehouses in North Darfur state capital El Fasher, killing two people and prompting authorities to impose curfew and WFP to suspend operations. In South Kordofan state, tribal clashes between Hawazma and Kenana herders 1-2 Dec killed at least two in Abu Jubeiha area. On Ethiopian border, troops 1 Dec said they had taken control of Ethiopian settlement in disputed al-Fashaga area after days of clashes.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

11 Dec 2021
Aid [for Sudan] should be wielded in a way that doesn’t have the military pocketing it or taking credit for it. Al Jazeera

Jonas Horner

Former Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
22 Nov 2021
The [Sudanese] military has shown its cards, it's clearly not seeking to deliver on the transition that people had called for during Sudan’s revolution in 2018-2019. VOA

Jonas Horner

Former Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
17 Nov 2021
There is increasing prospect of the military [in Sudan] splintering and dividing as some sections of junior officers may begin siding with protestors. Al-Monitor

Jonas Horner

Former Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
11 Nov 2021
The military [in Sudan] clearly feels little constraint to expanding its powers from either the street or international stakeholders. Bloomberg

Jonas Horner

Former Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
28 Oct 2021
They [Sudanese military] misunderstand the will on the street quite to their detriment. I think they are badly advised by regional powers supportive on this and uneasy by the prospect of transition. Reuters

Jonas Horner

Former Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
15 Oct 2021
[The] completion of Sudan’s transition to a civilian government would imperil the military’s tight hold over the economy and its impunity over abuses during and after the Bashir years. Al-Monitor

Jonas Horner

Former Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan

Latest Updates

Event Recording / Global

EU Watch List: 10 Cases Where the EU can Build Peace in 2022 (Online Event, 28th January 2022)

Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries or regions at risk of deadly conflict or escalation thereof in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could enhance prospects for peace and stability.

Statement / Africa

Reversing Sudan’s Dangerous Coup

The Sudanese military has ousted civilian leaders in a power grab that leaves the country’s transition in limbo. Led by the African Union, external actors should pull out all the stops to reverse a coup that could tip Sudan into sustained unrest and chaos.

Briefing / Africa

Containing the Volatile Sudan-Ethiopia Border Dispute

In mid-December, Sudanese troops moved into al-Fashaga, an agricultural area on the frontier with Ethiopia, expelling Ethiopian farmers and building fortifications. Fighting threatens to escalate. With assistance from outside mediators, the two countries should convene talks about restoring the shared land-use agreement that prevailed beforehand.

Podcast / Africa

Ethiopia’s Tigray Crisis and Horn of Africa Politics

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and guest host Comfort Ero talk with Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa director, Murithi Mutiga, about the fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and mounting tension between Ethiopia and its neighbours Eritrea and Sudan.

Briefing / Africa

The Rebels Come to Khartoum: How to Implement Sudan’s New Peace Agreement

The October 2020 accord between rebels and Sudan’s transitional government is a big step forward. But difficulties remain. External powers should help Khartoum broaden the deal to include holdouts, reform the security sector and keep promises to invest in the country’s long-neglected peripheries.