By: Jordan Hart
In April 2019, Sudan’s leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir was overthrown after 30 years of power by the military, led by Sudanese Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf. The protests that led to this acquisition of power began in December of 2018 due to the rising prices of basic goods and an established desire for new leadership. Rather than resorting to violence, protestors attended a series of peaceful demonstrations which led to the occupation of hundreds of thousands of citizens in the capital, Khartoum. Protestors involved in the sit-in were said to have received the announcement of the change in leadership from President Bashir to Defense Minister Auf with a mixture of disbelief and slight disappointment.
The exchange of power did not silence the protestors, rather, they remained in the streets until their demands were met. In order to maintain peace between the military and the protestors, Awad Ibn Auf reached an agreement with the protesting civilian groups to establish a three-year transition period, after which there would be a fully civilian administration. This transition period will include a parliament of 300 members, including voices from various political parties. The parliament will be composed of 67 percent members of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, and 33 percent of other political groups. This transition, for the first 6 months, will focus primarily on signing peace accords with rebels in the country’s warzones.
This transition period has not come without a cost. At least 4 Sudanese persons were killed and dozens injured on the day of the negotiation. Protestors also occupied the streets the following day to put pressure on the military to allow joint responsibility in fewer than three years. Citizens are uneasy with the army’s control, feeling that “they replaced one thief with another,” as Ahmad Ibrahim, a young protestor stated. The people want justice for those lost during Bashir’s administration and worry that the power will never be in their own hands.
Despite the distrust between civilians and the new military administration, there are efforts to reach agreements and transition smoothly to a civilian-run government, possibly even democracy. The military has launched investigations on the attacks on protestors and established a joint committee to protect the citizens of the sit-ins at the army’s headquarters. The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, reiterated his “expectation that the democratic aspiration of the Sudanese people will be realized,” a signal of hope from the U.N. that democracy has the potential to prevail through this chaos.
Photo courtesy of M. Saleh of Wikimedia Commons.