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.
Sudan’s military leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, says the army will step aside to make way for a civilian government. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Alan Boswell discusses why a solution for the political stalemate has proven so elusive and what may come next.
Intercommunal clashes killed hundreds in Blue Nile state and forced thousands to flee; transition remained fragile as news of “imminent” civilian-military deal prompted mixed reactions and violent street protests continued.
Intercommunal violence killed hundreds in Blue Nile state. UN humanitarian office 17 Oct reported that killing of two Hamaji people over land dispute 13 Oct “led to clashes between the Hausa community and other tribes” 13-16 Oct, killing at least 13 in Wad al-Mahi and Al-Rusyaris areas of Blue Nile State. Fighting 19-20 Oct escalated once more, reportedly killing over 250 in Wad al-Mahi, injuring over 500 and forcing around 7,000 to flee. State governor 21 Oct declared state of emergency for 30 days while military 24 Oct named new commander for Blue Nile state. Hundreds 23 Oct protested violence and lack of strong security response in state capital Damazin. In West Kordofan state, clashes between Misseriya and Nuba groups over land dispute 13-15 Oct killed at least 19 in Lagawa town.
Military-civilian forces made progress toward transition deal, but some groups decried process. Military and main civilian opposition bloc Forces for Freedom and Change-Central Council (FFC-CC) engaged in talks mediated by “Quad” (U.S., UK, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) over Sudanese Bar Association’s proposal for draft constitution to restore democratic transition, 12 Oct confirming reaching agreement on several issues. Other opposition groups criticised process. Notably, talks did not include Resistance Committees, driving force behind ongoing street protests, who have rejected negotiations with military; deal could thus weaken what remains of revolution that toppled Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Meanwhile, at least 54 resistance committees 5 Oct approved unified political charter calling for resignation of military leaders from power and implementation of new transitional constitution and legislative council.
Resistance Committees escalated anti-military protests. Coordination of Resistance Committees in Khartoum state escalated protests to mark one-year anniversary of military coup, with demonstrations 21-23, 25, 30 Oct held across major cities. Some protests turned violent as security forces cracked down on protestors, leaving two dead in Omdurman and Khartoum cities on 23 and 25 Oct respectively.
Aid [for Sudan] should be wielded in a way that doesn’t have the military pocketing it or taking credit for it.
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.
There is increasing prospect of the military [in Sudan] splintering and dividing as some sections of junior officers may begin siding with protestors.
The military [in Sudan] clearly feels little constraint to expanding its powers from either the street or international stakeholders.
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] 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...
In a 1 February 2022 hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Crisis Group’s President & CEO Dr. Comfort Ero testified on the escalating situation in Sudan and outlined four main recommendations for the U.S. to help restore the civilian-led transition to democracy.
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.
The failure to reach a consensus between the civilian population and the military has led to the resignation of Sudan’s prime minister. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to press the authorities to maintain ceasefires and stop violence against protesters, and to support a possible transition and the UN efforts to forge consensus in Sudan.
This week on The Horn, Alan talks to Khartoum-based analyst Kholood Khair about Sudan’s complex political dynamics in the aftermath of an October coup that derailed the country’s transition and transformed its political landscape.
Mass protests have erupted throughout Sudan following the 25 October coup, prompting backlash from the security forces. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Jonas Horner outlines de-escalatory moves that could reinstate the constitutional order – and reset the country’s transition.
This week on The Horn, Alan is joined by Magdi el-Gizouli, a fellow at the Rift Valley Institute, to discuss the competing interests now facing off against each other in Sudan after the military coup derailed the country’s transition.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and Naz Modirzadeh talk to Crisis Group experts Jonas Horner and Murithi Mutiga about the military coup in Sudan that has upended the country’s transition and heightened risks of violence.
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