Sudan coup: transition to democracy on the brink

Sudanese prime minister Abdalla Hamdok expressed his eagerness to lead Sudan out of its “worst and most dangerous” political situation. Source: Ola A. Alsheikh (via. Wikimedia Commons).

By Manal Ahmed | Political Editor

As of October 25, Sudan’s military have seized power and dissolved the Sovereign Council. A state of emergency has been declared by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the previous head of the power-sharing council and the de facto leader of Sudan.

The prime minister was arrested and taken to an undisclosed location, but later allowed to return home as General Burhan assured the public that the military would support a transition to democracy and would duly hand over power to the government elected on the set date of July 2023.

According to Burhan, the country was experiencing a ‘real threat’ to the ‘hopes of the nation’ from the transitional government’s mismanagement.

On October 21, mass protests took over major cities in Sudan in support of the transitional government. Huge crowds demonstrated against the ongoing pro-military sit-in, staged in front of the Presidential Palace in the capital, Khartoum.

The removal of President Omar al-Bashir after three decades in power occurred in August 2019, after a popular uprising and a military coup d’état. His removal was largely coordinated by the Forces of Freedom and Change alliance (FFC), a coalition of rebel groups and rights groups that organised demonstrations during the 2018-19 revolution.

Following al-Bashir’s deposition, the FFC agreed to share power with the Transitional Military Council (TMC) during the country’s transition to democracy. Federal elections were hesitantly scheduled for 2022 during this time.

The FFC and TMC completed a general Constitutional Declaration that transferred the sovereign power to the newly formed Sovereign Council, which would oversee the transition under the leadership of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan alongside a civilian cabinet led by Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

However, in recent months, tensions have arisen between different factions of FFC supporters due to a crippling economic crisis with low reserves of necessities such as fuel, bread, and medicine – said to be caused by Hamdok’s policies. This led to a failed coup-attempt in September.

While international aid and debt relief brought brief respite to the country’s ailing economy, General Burhan called for the dissolution of the transitional cabinet on October 15 and explained his desire to see “the formation of the constitutional court, the appointment of an independent chief of justice and the formation of a parliament that represents all the people” occur soon.

Pro-military supporters took to the streets the next day, chanting “down with the hunger government” and voicing support for Burhan to seize power. Civilian leaders organised counter-protests, which occurred on the 57th anniversary of the October Revolution, in response to the vocal support of the military.

Protestors at the pro-military sit-in were able to reach the palace gates due to little police presence and are said to belong to a group called the National Charter Alliance, a group previously involved in the FFC. They were surrounded by soldiers offering protection. 

Despite both sides expressing their hope for the demonstrations to remain peaceful, violence broke out after security forces sought to disperse large crowds through any means necessary. The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors pinned the cause of the 37 injuries on government forces. It is reported that tear gas and bullets were heavily used.

Prime Minister Hamdok stated that he was not  “neutral or a mediator in this conflict”, expressing that his goal was to lead Sudan out of its “worst and most dangerous” political period during the transition through a civilian-led democratic method.

Manal Ahmed Politics

Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics.

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