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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

Unchanged Situation

Violence in West Darfur reportedly left over 200 dead, anti-coup protesters marked third anniversary of former President Bashir’s fall, and military leaders’ relations with UN deteriorated. Deadly violence continued to ravage Darfur. Fighting between Arab pastoralists and non-Arab Massalit tribesmen 21 April erupted in Kreinik area of West Darfur state, 25 April reportedly spread to state capital El Geneina. NGO General Coordination for Refugees and Displaced in Darfur 24 April said at least 168 people killed in violence, accused paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)-backed Janjaweed militia of orchestrating attacks, while West Darfur Governor Khamis Abdalla Abkar 26 April said death toll was over 200. RSF Head Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti” 1 April ordered use of military force and implementation of emergency law in South Darfur state after deadly tribal violence in late March. Meanwhile, on anniversary of 2019 sit-in in front of military headquarters in capital Khartoum, thousands 6 April marched in Khartoum and across country, demanding civilian rule; security forces shot one protester dead. Thousands of anti-coup protesters 11 April rallied across country on third anniversary of Bashir’s removal. Coup leader and Sovereign Council Chairman Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan 1 April threatened to expel head of UN mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Volker Perthes, who late March warned political paralysis could lead country to “economic and security collapse”. Alliance of rebel groups signatory to 2020 peace agreement, Sudan Revolutionary Front, 9 April presented national dialogue initiative to resolve political crisis. Political coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) 14 April conditioned participation on release of political detainees and abolition of state of emergency; authorities 22-27 April released at least 27 political prisoners, including former Minister Khalid Omer Yousif and former Sovereign Council member Mohammed al-Faki Suliman, but dozens of opponents remained in prison. Military leaders took several steps toward rehabiliting Bashir-era ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and allies. Authorities around 7 April dropped charges of crimes against state pressed against NCP head Ibrahim Ghandour and released him from prison; court 26 April reversed order dissolving Islamic Call Organization, which served as financing arm for Bashir’s regime.

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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.

Q&A / Africa

After the Coup, Restoring Sudan’s Transition

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.

Podcast / Africa

Sudan After the Coup

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. 

Podcast / Africa

The Military’s Dangerous Power Grab in Sudan

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.

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.