Sudan And Democracy At Crossroads: Coup, Protests, Repeat!

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A north-eastern African country: Sudan, share its border with Egypt, Libya, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, and the Central African republic. It is one of the most heterogeneous countries globally, ranging from ethnicity to language spoken.

The capital Khartoum is the center of politics, although it comprises 2% of the Sudanese population. Earlier Sudan used to be one large nation but marred by ethnic conflicts another nation-state of South Sudan realised independence in 2011.

The democratic protest of 2019:-

Sudan has faced democratic protests and coups for a very long and this time, the stakes of the country’s future are very high. For two decades, Sudan was dominated by the rule of Omar el Bashir who came to power in 1989 through a military coup supported by Islamists. Sudan began a tough transition to democracy after a popular uprising in April 2019.

A group of elderly Sudanese people attending a discussion

The country’s long-time president ” Omar al- Bashir ” was removed from office after several protests against his government. Sudan got its independence in 1956. Since then, this African country has been facing protests, coups, famines, and government instabilities.

After coming to power in 1989, President Bashir enforced orthodox Islamic law, which caused harm to women’s rights and minorities. Sudan became the land for some jihadi groups and gave Osama bin Laden shelter in the 1990s.

According to Unicef, more than 1 million children in Sudan are malnourished, and every 1 child out of 4 are stunned. Hunger is one of the significant problems of Sudan, which has long term effects on the country.

Agreement made after 2019: The road to transition:- 

Religious head with his armed guards at a sermon session in Sudan

However, after 2019, an agreement was made in which military rule was imposed to share power with some officials appointed by the political body called the Sovereign council. The country was said to witness elections in 2023.

Although the military role was expected to be peaceful, civilians complained of military overreach in foreign affairs and peace talks. Lt. Gen Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the military chief, was believed to transfer the leadership to civilians. Still, contrary, he was proclaimed as the new leader. He declared a state emergency and put several civilian leaders in prison, including Prime minister ” Abdalla Hamdok”.

Hamdok witnessed the transitional civilian-military government of 2019, a historic moment for Sudan. It could lead Sudan to return to democracy. Hamdok as a civilian leader: Hamdok, after taking the seat as a civilian leader, promised to solve the country’s economic crisis the public debt, and achieve peace in the country after civil wars.

Children on the street of Khartoum, Sudan

He also negotiated with the International monetary fund and world bank on restructuring Sudan’s debt. The leadership also wanted Sudan to get removed from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism” and was in talks with the US to do the same.

Sudan was also included in the list of IMF’s Highly indebted poor countries based on the country’s economic reforms could also free Sudan’s colossal debt of USD 56 billion. He also removed fuel subsidies, which added to the country’s substantial financial burden.

Turmoil in 2022

But the dissolution of the country’s sovereign council put the country at the crossroads again in 2022. On January 1st, Sudan completed 66 years of being independent. The people were thrilled to welcome democracy back.

Islamic Radicalism and ethenic conflicts have been at an all-time high in Sudan.

Still, joy went in despair when the country witnessed a military coup on October 25th, 2021. He was again made me the prime minister in November and signed a 14 PowerPoint deal with al-Burhan to stop the bloodshed in the country. However, Sudan’s pro-democratic group rejected all the agreements made in 2019.

Sudan’s power-sharing arrangement is described as a kleptocracy. It’s a government whose corrupt leaders use power to advance wealth at the expense of their population. The main civilian coalition, i.e. Forces of freedom and change, refuse to recognise any agreement between Hamdok and the military.

They call Hamdok “fig leaf” and demonstrate protest against ongoing military rule in the country. The use of blockades, tear gas, live ammunition, shutting off the internet was seen. Anti-military demonstrators characterised Hamdok’s rule as another category of military rule, and hence he lost the support.

The economic crisis of Sudan:-

Hunger, Poverty, Water crisis, etc. women and children are at the forefront of these vulnerabilities.

The economy was worst hit by the democratic crisis. Currency devaluated, and the fuel and bread prices went high, creating a shortage in the market. The transitional government also made such reforms to rapidly reduce the debt to attract foreign direct investments.

With all this going on, inflation rose, and the country’s economic situation went into turmoil. All these protests in Sudan also led to the displacement of the population, especially girls and women. They saw the most brutal hit. They were mistreated and brutally raped, maimed, and killed. The UN also estimated that the

country will also need humanitarian assistance in 2022. In addition, the Sudan government cannot pass the current budget. As a result, the government has to lift subsidies from essential things, creating further problems in the country. 

The future of thousands of Youth has been marred by violence with increasing involvement of children in armed violence

Effect on neighbouring countries:- 

Sudan is a volatile region neighbouring many essential countries such as Egypt, Libya, and read sea or surrounding the horn of Africa. The democratic crisis affected the neighbouring country as well. For say, conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia pushed thousands of people into eastern Sudan.

It led to disputes in the border area. An added tension to all this problem is the support of Russia to generals. Moreover, Russia supplies arms to militia groups in Sudan, motivating them to keep the protest going. On the other hand, due to Chinese strategic investments in the region, China hopes for stability.

UN Humanitarian aid, Response, and Intervention are trying to stabilize the situation in Sudan

Way forward:-

The ongoing crisis in Sudan led the country to crossroads of democracy. The immediate solution to this situation can be to revive the transitional government in the region and release all arrested leaders. Sudan needs a stable government that could solve the mounding problems of the country.

Furthermore, the country should introduce some economic reforms like opening up of country’s economy for financial investors to promote development. Finally, all the major parties of Sudan should hold a dialogue to reach a golden mean.

You may also like this: India’s strategic relationship with Central Asian nations: A policy perspective

About the Author:

Tanya Jain

Tanya and optimism go well with each other !! She is a shopaholic and loves to get on new trends. Besides this, Tanya has been a political science student and has a great interest in international affairs. Currently pursuing a master in the same from Delhi University, she is determined and hardworking. Tanya aims to make a space for herself and make contributions by interning with “The International Prism”, which acts as a podium to voice the concerns of the youth.

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9 thoughts on “Sudan And Democracy At Crossroads: Coup, Protests, Repeat!

  1. Rarely, realist thinkers in India focus on African countries. It’s a sad truth. So first of all, you deserve a kudos for talking about those who are excluded or rather occassionally included in India’s foreign policy. This shows the values that you stand for.
    Second, your articles always end with an optimistic setof solutions. It’s a pleasure reading you.
    Very Proud 🙂

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