Why The Military Has Struck Again In Sudan

Why the military has struck again in Sudan

For a country like Sudan, the coup d’etat experienced in the early hours of the 25th is not, unfortunately, an uncommon event. None has marked the history of the country as much as the one headed in 1989 by Omar al Bashir, which allowed him to extend his mandate until April 11, 2019. Now, waiting to clear the shadows that still define the most recent, we must It should be recalled that on September 21 there was another riot, immediately aborted, which can be interpreted as a clear sign of the extreme weakness of the political process that was undertaken after the agreement between the Transitional Military Committee and the Forces for Freedom and the Change (FLC) signed on July 17, 2019.

The agreement launched a process of transition towards democracy that should culminate in a general election in late 2022 (then postponed to 2023) and with three main tasks on its agenda: improving the economic situation, promoting an inclusive peace process and carry out a profound reform of the national security system.

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To this end, a Sovereign Council was created – made up of five soldiers, five civilians and an eleventh member appointed by consensus among the previous ten – headed up to now by General Abdelfatah al Burhan (accompanied by General Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeidti’ Dagalo, also main protagonist of the coup that brought down Al Bashir). According to what was agreed then, last May, that position should have been transferred to a civilian, but the resistance of the uniformed men to give up their privileges had prevented it.

Under its supreme authority was a Council of Ministers chaired by Abdallah Hamdok (currently in the hands of the coup plotters), with a score of members appointed by the FLC forces (except for Interior and Defense). Finally, there was also a Legislative Council that, in practice, has not been able to legislate and whose decisions have always been subject to final ratification by the Sovereign Council.

That means, in short, that the military had already ensured from the beginning of the transition in real power for long enough to get the process on track in their favor or even to block it when it seemed convenient. There are many unknown details of what was signed, but from the beginning it was very difficult to imagine that the Sudanese military would accept the demand of the FLC to purge responsibility for the indiscriminate violence carried out against the civilian population (such as, for example, the massacre committed on June 3, 2019 by the Rapid Support Forces (FAR), which killed more than 120 unarmed civilians).

However, in view of the latest decisions taken by Al Burhan – dissolution of the Sovereign Council, annulment of several articles of the 2019 political agreement and arrest of civilian members of various public bodies – it seems clear that even then they did not feel calm.

When you think of cases like that of the aforementioned Hemeidti – a true factotum in the political arena, former head of the fearsome janjawed, head of the brutal FAR and one of the richest men in the country, at the head of the business conglomerate Al Junaid – it can be concluded that the coup plotters have once again put their interests ahead of the more than 40 million Sudanese.

Today as yesterday, and despite being the world’s leading exporter of gum arabic and having gold mines as important as those of Jebel Amir (discovered in 2012 in North Darfur), Sudan remains mired in a difficult economic situation, with inflation above 60%, entangled in internal conflicts such as those affecting Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, without having solved the problems derived from the independence of South Sudan in 2011 (including the delimitation of oil-rich border territories) and without respite in the face of a pandemic that escapes the management capacity of its leaders. Along the way they have been of little use by the economic aid provided by regimes as insensitive to human rights and the promotion of democracy as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, interested rather in supporting counterrevolutionary movements that seek to permanently stifle citizens’ hopes.

To these problems, as has been verified in the last two weeks, is added the fragmentation of the opposition civilian forces. On the one hand, there have been citizen protests in support of the military sectors, demanding a new shift to remedy the failure of the Hamdok government in the face of the widespread hardships and lack of security. On the other hand, the FLC seem doomed to internal rupture, with the creation on the 2nd of a new alliance in which dissatisfied groups have joined because of what they consider to be marginalized within said Forces. Its promoters include Minni Arko Minawi, leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement and governor of Darfur since last May, and Gibril Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Party and Minister of Finance since February. If the fracture is confirmed, the coup plotters can now find new civilian travel companions interested in gaining prominence; all this as part of an exercise in the struggle for power in which what counts the least, as so often, are the needs and demands of the population.

For now, and while the high-sounding and ineffective chant of international condemnations is being repeated, it is the Sudanese Professionals Association, a key player in the protests that caused the fall of Al Bashir, which has asked the population to take to the streets to demonstrate his rejection of this new attempt.

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