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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

Deteriorated Situation

Tensions rose markedly over paramilitary Rapid Support Forces’ refusal to integrate into regular forces, with PM warning of “chaos” should security sector reform not proceed; protests erupted over end of fuel subsidies. Army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) early June fortified their respective positions in capital Khartoum, and Deputy Head of Sovereign Council and RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti” 4 June said he would not merge RSF with regular forces into single army as called for in Oct 2020 peace agreement. PM Hamdok 15 June warned failure to reform security sector may lead to “chaos” and “civil war” and 22 June called for comprehensive political settlement to “unify civil and military fronts” and address “national crisis”. Armed group signatories to Oct 2020 peace agreement throughout month expressed frustration at lack of progress in bringing their forces into military. UN Security Council 3 June extended transition assistance mission in Sudan’s mandate for one year. Amid spiralling inflation, govt 8 June scrapped fuel subsidies in line with International Monetary Fund (IMF) roadmap, prompting sharp price hike and setting off protests in Khartoum 9-10 June; authorities 26 June said they would cut govt spending and increase social spending; police 30 June fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters in Khartoum demanding govt’s resignation over IMF-backed reforms. IMF 29 June approved debt relief package of $1.4bn to Sudan; IMF and World Bank same day said Khartoum was eligible for further debt relief under Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, paving way for clearing 90% of Sudan’s $56bn external debt within next three years. Intercommunal violence in south reportedly killed at least 36 in South Darfur state 6 June, 12 in South Kordofan state 10-18 June, and at least another five in West Kordofan state 13-14 June. Govt 26 June pledged to hand over former officials indicted for war crimes in Darfur to International Criminal Court. Meanwhile, Ethiopian militia 5 June reportedly killed two Sudanese farmers in disputed al-Fashaga border zone; army 8 June said Ethiopia had deployed additional troops near border, and govt 10 June sent reinforcements to area. Tensions with Addis Ababa over Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam remained high (see Nile Waters).
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

30 Jun 2021
It's imperative that [the Sudanese government] communicate properly to the population...on this [IMF debt relief program] so people don't look up and just see the pain. Reuters

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
6 Oct 2020
The military [...] simply has not had the time nor shown the will to address violence in the way that many rural Sudanese would need to see in order to put down their weapons. AFP

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
1 Oct 2020
Sudan’s economy is in freefall and there has been limited international assistance. Al-Jazeera

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
26 Aug 2020
Sudan has been pretty isolated for a long time. It is very keen to get off this [terror] list. This is the carrot. Financial Times

Jonas Horner

Deputy Project Director, Horn of Africa & Senior Analyst, Sudan
29 Jul 2020
The violence [in Sudan] has triggered a wave of sit-ins across the region, demanding authorities protect civilians from the militias, who are scrambling to secure their gains now that Bashir has gone. The New York Times

Jonas Horner

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

Latest Updates

Podcast / Africa

Sudan's U.S. Terror Delisting: Too Little, Too Late?

Sudan's transition is in deep trouble, and Crisis Group’s Sudan expert Jonas Horner explains why on this week’s episode of The Horn. President Trump’s recent promise to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism may not be enough to mitigate the spiralling economic crisis.

Podcast / Africa

A Rare Glimpse into Darfur’s Last Rebel Stronghold

In early 2020, Vice News correspondent Julia Steers was the first foreign journalist in five years to set foot in the Jebel Marra mountains, Darfur’s last rebel-held area. This week on The Horn, Julia tells of a region traumatised by war and explains why these rebels stayed out of an August peace deal.

Podcast / Africa

The Horn: As Rains Begin, Crisis Looms over the Nile Dam

The Horn of Africa faces myriad crises. Beyond the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on politics and the economy, the region is grappling with deeply troubled transitions, cross-border jihadism and remains a playground for great power competition. In this Episode, Host Alan Boswell and William Davison, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, discuss Ethiopia's plans to start filling the massive dam it is building, including the complex dynamics at play, negotiations, and the parties' varius concerns.

Briefing / Africa

Financing the Revival of Sudan’s Troubled Transition

Mounting economic turbulence is rocking Sudan’s delicate political transition. Without urgent donor assistance to provide economic relief to a suffering population, public support for the cabinet’s reform agenda could collapse. Any failure in the civilian-military government could have tragic consequences for Sudan and the region.

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.

Our People

Jonas Horner

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