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Sudan

Sudan is undergoing a major transition following the 11 April 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. That transition has been halting and is fraught with risk, with the old military regime showing little appetite for real change. Sudan matters not least 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 serving as a historical bridge between North and sub-Saharan Africa. Through field research and advocacy with Sudanese and international actors in the region, we aim to reduce the likelihood of conflict inside Sudan and encourage a genuine transition to more inclusive governance by Khartoum and an attendant shift toward positively engaged regional and international relations.

CrisisWatch Sudan

Unchanged Situation

Peace talks between transitional govt and rebel groups suffered new delays and security forces reportedly repelled cross-border attack by Ethiopian troops. After govt and rebel coalition Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) failed to meet self-imposed 20 June deadline to reach comprehensive peace deal despite “significant progress”, representatives of SRF groups and South Sudanese mediation team 25 June arrived in capital Khartoum to hold face-to-face talks with govt in bid to narrow differences on outstanding issues. Faction of rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu 17 June resumed talks with govt following months-long absence from peace negotiations. Following spate of cross-border clashes in recent months and with negotiations over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) at an advanced stage, Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti”, head of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and deputy head of Sovereign Council 17 June met Ethiopian PM Abiy in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Security forces 22 June said they had repelled cross-border attack by Ethiopian troops on Anfal military base in Al-Qadarif state previous day, inflicting “heavy casualties”; following incident, Khartoum and Addis Ababa reportedly agreed to continue dialogue and exercise restraint. Tens of thousands 30 June took to streets across country to demand greater civilian rule in transition, one protester reportedly killed. New round of talks with Egypt and Ethiopia over filling and operation of GERD on Blue Nile river started 9 June but faltered 17 June; negotiations resumed 26 June (see Nile Waters). International Criminal Court 9 June said former Popular Defence Forces and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb, sought for alleged war crimes in Darfur in 2003-2004, had surrendered in Central African Republic 7 June; Kushayb transferred to The Hague next day. UN Security Council 3 June created UN assistance mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) to support country’s transition; next day extended mandate of UN-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) until end of year. At Berlin Sudan Partnership Conference 25 June, foreign donors pledged $1.8bn to support transition.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

13 Mar 2020
The transitional government and the international community [in Sudan] must move quickly to avert an economic collapse and accompanying disintegration of the transitional dispensation. France24/AFP

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
9 Mar 2020
The attack [in Sudan] may have the effect of increasing the solidarity between the civilian and military components of the transition. Wall Street Journal

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
29 Feb 2020
Overt Israeli endorsement of a [sanctions] lift for Sudan will provide a key push to the U.S. government. Bloomberg

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
21 Feb 2020
An underappreciated dynamic [in Sudan] is the split between the military, who traditionally have a Muslim Brotherhood background, and Islamists themselves. Deutsche Welle

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
27 Sep 2019
This is a case where the UN should aim to be ‘best supporting actor’ rather than the star, bringing economic expertise to back up the AU’s work on Sudan’s transition. Foreign Policy

Richard Gowan

UN Director
18 Jul 2019
All roads forward in Sudan now run into the Hemeti problem. Over time, his power will need to be reined in, yet any action against him at the moment risks civil war. Bloomberg

Alan Boswell

Senior Analyst, South Sudan

Latest Updates

Video / Africa

Reducing tensions as Ethiopia Moves to Fill its Blue Nile Dam

With rains swelling the Blue Nile, Ethiopia is just weeks away from beginning to fill the massive dam it is building. Egypt and Sudan demand that it not do so without an agreement. All three countries urgently need to make concessions for a deal.

Video / Africa

Video - Safeguarding Sudan’s Revolution

Murithi Mutiga, Crisis Group's Project Director for the Horn of Africa, reflects on the Sudanese revolution and on the challenges lying ahead for the new civilian-led administration in Khartoum.

Commentary / Africa

Calming the Choppy Nile Dam Talks

Egypt and Ethiopia are exchanging harsh words over the dam the latter is building on the Blue Nile. At issue is how fast the Horn nation will fill its reservoir once construction is complete. The two countries’ leaders should cool the rhetoric and seek compromise.

Report / Africa

Safeguarding Sudan’s Revolution

Sudan’s post-Bashir transition holds the promise of civilian rule but also perils, among them renewed insurgency, economic stagnation and backsliding into autocracy. Outside powers should press the military to adhere to its power-sharing pact with the opposition. Authorities in Khartoum should pursue peace with rebels.

Also available in العربية
Commentary / Africa

Keeping Sudan’s Transition on Track

Following the ouster of Sudan’s strongman Omar al-Bashir, sustained pressure yielded a power-sharing agreement between the military and opposition alliance. But the settlement is fragile and the economy is in deep distress. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 - Third Update for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to support the civilian cabinet during the country’s delicate transition.

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Jonas Horner

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