2018–19 Sudanese protests

Last updated

Sudanese protests (2018–19)
Part of Arab World protests (2018–19)
Sudanese protestors chanting.jpg
Protesters in Khartoum in front of the Sudanese Army headquarters
Date19 December 2018 (2018-12-19) – ongoing
(4 months and 3 days)
Caused by
Goals
Methods
Resulted in
  • Al-Bashir imposes state of emergency, dissolves central and regional governments, forms new government, and postpones constitutional amendments that would allow him to run for another term in 2020, without cancelling his candidacy [5] [6]
  • Following protests, military seized power in coup d'état; Bashir overthrown and placed under arrest. [7]
  • Junta leader and de facto head of state Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, formerly defense minister and an ally of al-Bashir, [7] steps down after protests, transfers power to Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan. [8]
  • Protesters demand immediate transition to a civilian government, protests continue. [9]
Parties to the civil conflict

Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan

Lead figures
Non-centralized leadership

Dec. 2018 – Apr. 2019
Presidential Standard of Sudan.svg Omar al-Bashir
President of Sudan

Flag of Sudan.svg Mohamed Tahir Ayala
Prime Minister

Flag of Sudan.svg Motazz Moussa
Prime Minister

Flag of Sudan.svg Mohammed Hamdan Dalgo (Hemaidttie)
Head of the Rapid Support Forces

Flag of Sudan.svg Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf
Sudanese Minister of Defense

Flag of Sudan.svg Salah Mohammed Abdullah (Gosh)
Head of National Intelligence and Security Service


Apr. 2019 – present
Flag of Sudan.svg Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf
Chairman of the Transitional Military Council (April 11–12)

Flag of Sudan.svg Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan
Chairman of the Transitional Military Council (April 12–)
Casualties
Death(s)>60 [10]
Arrested 800+

On December 19, 2018, a series of demonstrations broke out in several Sudanese cities, due in part to spiraling costs of living and deterioration of economic conditions at all levels of society. [11] The protests quickly turned from demands for urgent economic reforms into demands for Omar al-Bashir to step down. [12] [13]

Sudan Country in Northeast Africa

Sudan or the Sudan, officially the Republic of the Sudan, is a country in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea to the east, Ethiopia to the southeast, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest. It has a population of 39 million people and occupies a total area of 1,886,068 square kilometres, making it the third-largest country in Africa. Sudan's predominant religion is Islam, and its official languages are Arabic and English. The capital is Khartoum, located at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile. Since 2011, Sudan is the scene of ongoing military conflict in its regions South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Omar al-Bashir Former Sudanese President

Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir is a Sudanese politician who served as the seventh President of Sudan from 1989 to 2019 and founder of the National Congress Party. He came to power in 1989 when, as a brigadier in the Sudanese Army, he led a group of officers in a military coup that ousted the democratically elected government of prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi after it began negotiations with rebels in the south. Since then, he has been elected three times as President in elections that have been under scrutiny for electoral fraud. In March 2009, al-Bashir became the first sitting president to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), for allegedly directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur.

The violence of the government's reaction to these peaceful demonstrations sparked international concern. On 22 February, al-Bashir declared a state of emergency and dissolved the national and regional governments, replacing the latter with military and intelligence-service officers. [14] On 8 March, al-Bashir announced that all of the women jailed for protesting against the government would be released. [15] On the weekend of 6–7 April, there were massive protests for the first time since the declaration of the state of emergency. [10] On 10 April, soldiers were seen shielding protesters from security forces, [16] and on 11 April, the military removed al-Bashir from power in a coup d'état.

2019 Sudanese coup détat Sudanese military coup

On the morning of 11 April 2019, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was removed from power by the Sudanese Armed Forces amid ongoing protests after holding the office for nearly 30 years.

Since al-Bashir was deposed, demonstrators have continued, as protestors organized by the Sudanese Professionals Association and democratic opposition groups have engage in street demonstrations, calling on the ruling military council to "immediately and unconditionally" step aside in favor of a civilian-led transitional government, and urging other reforms in Sudan. [17] [9]

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) is an umbrella association of 15 different Sudanese trade unions. The organisation was first formed in October 2016, though was not officially registered due to government crackdowns on trade unions.

Background

Al-Bashir has ruled the country since 1989, when he led a successful coup against the elected, but increasingly unpopular, prime minister of the time, Sadiq al-Mahdi. [18] The International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western region of Darfur. [19]

1989 Sudanese coup détat conflict

The 1989 Sudanese coup d'état was a military coup that occurred in Sudan on 30 June 1989 against the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi and President Ahmed Al-Mirghani. The coup was led by military officer Omar al-Bashir who took power in its aftermath and would go on to rule the country for the next 30 years until he was overthrown in 2019.

Sadiq al-Mahdi Prime Minister of Sudan, 1966-67 and 1986-89

Sadiq al-Mahdi, also known as Sadiq as-Siddiq, is a Sudanese political and religious figure who was Prime Minister of Sudan from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1986 to 1989. He is head of the National Umma Party and Imam of the Ansar, a sufi order that pledges allegiance to Muhammad Ahmad, who claimed to be the Mahdi, the messianic saviour of Islam.

International Criminal Court Permanent international tribunal

The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression. The ICC is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction only when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer situations to the Court. The ICC began functioning on 1 July 2002, the date that the Rome Statute entered into force. The Rome Statute is a multilateral treaty which serves as the ICC's foundational and governing document. States which become party to the Rome Statute, for example by ratifying it, become member states of the ICC. As of March 2019, there are 124 ICC member states.

In January 2018, large protests started on the streets of Khartoum, Sudan's capital, in opposition to the rising prices of the basic goods including bread. The protests grew quickly and found support from different opposition parties. Youth and women's movements also joined the protests. [20]

Khartoum City in Sudan

Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile, flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile, flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran". The main Nile continues to flow north towards Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Sudanese government devalued the local currency and removed wheat and electricity subsidies. Sudan's economy has struggled since Omar al-Bashir's ascent to power, but became increasingly turbulent following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, which, up until then, had represented an important source of foreign currency, because of its oil output. [21] [22] The devaluation of the Sudanese pound in October 2018 led to wildly fluctuating exchange rates and a shortage of cash in circulation. [22] Long queues for basic goods such as petrol, bread, as well as cash from ATMs are a common sight. Sudan has around 70% inflation, second only to Venezuela. [22]

Until the second half of 2002, Sudan's economy boomed on the back of increases in oil production, high oil prices, and large inflows of foreign direct investment. GDP growth registered more than 10% per year in 2006 and 2007. From 1997 to date, Sudan has been working with the IMF to implement macroeconomic reforms, including a managed float of the exchange rate. Sudan began exporting crude oil in the last quarter of 1999.

South Sudan country in Africa

South Sudan, officially known as the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country in East-Central Africa. The country gained its independence from the Republic of the Sudan in 2011, making it the newest country with widespread recognition. Its capital and largest city is Juba.

Sudanese pound currency

The Sudanese pound (Arabic: جنيه سوداني is the basic unit of the Sudanese currency. The pound consists of 100 piasters. The pound is issued by the Central Bank of Sudan. Its value is linked to gold and convertible into foreign currencies. There are no restrictions on money transfers to and from Sudan. The Sudanese pound is equivalent to $ 0.021. It has been pegged to the United States dollar since around 1984.

In August 2018, the National Congress party backed Omar Al-Bashir's 2020 presidential run, despite his increasing unpopularity and his previous declaration that he would not run in the upcoming elections. [23] These measures led to rising opposition from within the party calling for respect of the constitution, which currently prevents Al-Bashir from being reelected. Sudanese activists reacted on social media and called for a campaign against his nomination. [23]

Opposition groups and figures

The Sudanese Professionals Association has coordinated the protests. [24] The group is a civil society organization [25] and an umbrella group of trade unions for professionals. [26] The group is composed of doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, journalists, pharmacists, and others. [24] [27] [28] [29] The group, established in 2012, operated mostly clandestinely during al-Bashir's regime, when the group was in order to avoid arrest. [28] [29] The core of the group consists of urban middle-class professionals. [29]

Other Sudanese opposition groups include the Nidaa Sudan (which includes the Umma Party, Sudanese Congress Party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement) and the National Consensus Forces (consisting of the Sudanese Communist Party and the Sudanese Ba'ath Party). [30] The Sudanese opposition to al-Bashir was initially fractured, but in January 2019 unified in a coalition called the Alliance for Freedom and Change. [30] [31] The Freedom and Change Charter signed by the alliance participants called for the collapse of the regime and a transition to democracy under a civilian government. [31]

Timeline

A protest gathering at night Sudanese protestors gathering infront of Army HQ.jpg
A protest gathering at night

December 2018

The most recent waves of protests began on 19 December 2018 in response to the tripling of the price of bread in Atbara, then quickly spread to Port Sudan, Dongola and the capital Khartoum. Protestors set fire to the national party headquarters in Atbara and Dongola. [32] Authorities used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse demonstrators, causing dozens of deaths and injuries. [33] The former prime minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi, returned to the country on the same day. [32]

Access to social media and instant messaging was cut on 21 December by the country's major service providers, with technical evidence collected by the NetBlocks internet observatory and Sudanese volunteers indicating the installation of "an extensive Internet censorship regime". [34] [35] Curfews were issued across Sudan, with schools closed throughout the country. [36]

January 2019

Protesters greeting the Sudanese Army Sudanese protestors greeting sudanese army (cropped).jpg
Protesters greeting the Sudanese Army

By 7 January 2019 over 800 anti-government protesters were arrested and 19 people, including security officials, were killed during the protests. [37]

On 9 January, thousands of protesters gathered in the southeastern city of El-Gadarif. [38]

Protests organized by the Sudanese Professionals Associations led to a doctor being shot on 17 January, [39] [40] and to allegations that hospitals were being targeted by security forces. [41]

February 2019

Media coverage of the protests was strictly controlled by security forces. Al Tayyar began printing blank pages to show the amount of government-censored copy. Other news outlets have seen their entire print run confiscated by the government. The security service (NISS) raided Al Jarida's offices again, which has led the latter to stop producing its print version. According to The Listening Post , foreign Arabic-language videographers have been particularly targeted by the government. [42] [43]

A "senior military source" told Middle East Eye that Salah Gosh, head of Sudanese intelligence, had the support of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt to replace al-Bashir as president, citing his private talks with Yossi Cohen at the Munich Security Conference as evidence (15–17 February). [14]

On 22 February, Bashir declared a yearlong state of national emergency, the first in twenty years. [44] [45] Bashir also announced the dissolution of the central governments and the regional governments, and replaced regional governors with military generals. [45] [46] The next day he appointed his chosen successor, Mohamed Tahir Ayala, as Prime Minister and former intelligence chief and current Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf as first vice president. His intelligence chief also announced that he would not seek re-election in 2020 and would resign from the head of the National Congress Party. [44] Ahmed Haroun, also wanted by the ICC for war crimes, replaced Al-Bashir as leader of the National Congress party. Officers from the military and intelligence services were put in charge of provincial governments after the dissolution. [47] [14]

Security forces raided universities in Khartoum and Ombdurman, reportedly beating students with sticks in Khartoum on 24 February. [48] On the same day, al-Bashir issued decrees banning unauthorized demonstrations, prohibiting the illegal trade of fuel and wheat under threat of 10-year prison sentences; banning the "unauthorized circulation of information, photos or documents that belong to the president's family"; and introducing capital controls on the trade of gold and foreign currency. [49]

March 2019

On 7 March, protests were organized to honor women for their leading role in the uprising. [50] "You women, be strong" and "This revolution is a women's revolution" were slogans chanted at several protests. [51] On 8 March, Omar al-Bashir ordered that all the women who had been arrested for participating in anti-government demonstrations be freed. [15] Protestors named a Khartoum neighborhood park (in Burri) after one such woman, who had been sentenced to 20 lashes and one month in prison by an emergency court, then freed on appeal. The sentence of flogging, first introduced during British colonization in 1925, aims at discouraging Sudanese women from political activism. According to the Democratic Lawyers Alliance, at least 870 people have been tried in the newly-established emergency courts. [52]

April 2019

On 6 April, days after Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced to step down to appease Algerian protesters, [53] the Association of Sudanese Professionals called for a march to the headquarters of the armed forces. Hundreds of thousands of people answered the call. According to one protester, divisions appeared between the security forces, who "tried to attack the demonstrators coming from the north", and the military, who "took the demonstrators' side and fired back." A sit-in then started at the military headquarters in Khartoum and continued throughout the week. On the morning of 8 April, the army and the rapid reaction force of the secret services were facing off at the armed forces headquarters in Khartoum. [10] [54]

On 7 April, Sudan "experienced a complete power outage on Sunday, just hours after a social media block took effect across the country." [55]

On 8 April, the Association of Sudanese Professionals issued a press release that calls for "the formation of a council comprising the DFC forces and collaborating revolutionary forces, charged with the task of liaising with the state’s regular forces as well as with local and international actors to finalize the process of political transition and the handing over of power to a transitional civilian government that enjoys the support of the people and reflects the aspirations of the revolutionary forces". [56]

According to the interior minister, there were six deaths, 57 injuries, and 2500 arrests in Khartoum over the weekend. Police were under orders not to intervene. [57]

Also on 8 April, a video of a young woman named Alaa Salah leading a musical protest chant to a crowd standing on top of a car began circulating on WhatsApp. Quickly the image became viral online with Salah becoming a symbol of the protests in the country. It also brought attention to women's involvement and leadership in the protest movement. [58]

On 11 April, Bashir was ousted from presidency and placed under house arrest by the military. [7] [59] The European Union and the United States called for a UN Security Council meeting. [60] State media reported that all political prisoners, including anti-Bashir protest leaders, were being released from jail. [61] A curfew was also put in place between 10 pm to 4 am. [61] Despite the imposed curfew, protesters remained on the streets. [62]

On the evening of 12 April, the head of the transitional military council in Sudan, Awad Ibn Auf, announced his resignation following intense protests. Ibn Auf said that he had chosen Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, the army's inspector-general, to succeed him. The protesters were "jubilant" upon hearing this announcement as he was one of the generals who reached out to the protestors during the sit-in. [63] [64] Burhan is also "not known to be implicated in war crimes or wanted by international courts." [64]

On 13 April, talks between the military and the protestors officially started. [65] This came following announcements that the curfew imposed by Auf was lifted, that an order was issued to complete the release of those who were jailed under emergency laws issued by al-Bashir. It was also announced that intelligence and security chief Salah Gosh had resigned. Amnesty International asked the military coalition to investigate his role in protesters' deaths. [66] [65]

On 14 April it was announced that council had agreed to have the protestors nominate a civilian Prime Minister and have civilians run every Government ministry outside the Defense and Interior Ministries. [67] The same day, military council spokesman Shams El Din Kabbashi Shinto announced that Auf had been removed as Defense Minister and that Lt. General Abu Bakr Mustafa had been named to succeed Gosh as chief of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). [68]

On 15 April, military council spokesman Shams al-Din Kabbashi announced "The former ruling National Congress Party (NCP) will not participate in any transitional government," despite not being barred from future elections. [69] [70] The same day, prominent activist Mohammed Naji al-Asam announced that trust was also growing between the military and the protestors following more talks and the release of more political prisoners, despite a poorly organized attempt by the army to disperse the sit-in. [71] It was also announced that the military council was undergoing restructuring, which began with the appointments of Colonel General Hashem Abdel Muttalib Ahmed Babakr as army chief of staff and Colonel General Mohamed Othman al-Hussein as deputy chief of staff. [72]

On 16 April, the military council announced that Burhan once again cooperated with the demands of the protestors and sacked the nation's three top prosecutors, including chief prosecutor Omar Ahmed Mohamed Abdelsalam, public prosecutor Amer Ibrahim Majid, and deputy public prosecutor Hesham Othman Ibrahim Saleh. [73] [74] The same day, two sources with direct knowledge told CNN that Bashir, his former interior minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, and Ahmed Haroun, the former head of the ruling party, will be charged with corruption and the death of protesters. [75]

On April 17, al-Bashir was transferred from house arrest in the Presidential Palace to the Kobar maximum security prison in Khartoum where he is reportedly in solitary confinement. [76] [77] [78] The prison, which also holds other allies of al-Bashir, [78] was notorious for holding political prisoners during al-Bashir's time in power. [78] [77] Military council spokesman Shams Eldin Kabashi added that two of al-Bashir's brothers, Abdullah and Alabas, were also arrested. [79]

On April 18, crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands demonstrated to demand civilian rule. The demonstration was the largest since al-Bashir was deposed. [9] Protest leaders also announced plans to name their own transitional council in two days' time if the military junta refused to step aside. [80] [24]

On April 21, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan asserted in an interview that "The transitional military council is complementary to the uprising and the revolution" and "is committed to handing over power to the people." [81] On the same day, protest leaders broke off talks with the military authoritiesstating that the military junta was not serious about transferring power to civilians and that the junta was comprised of remnants of al-Bashir's Islamist regimeand vowed to intensify demonstrations. [82] On the same day, the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged $3 billion in aid to the military authorities. [82]

Slogans

"Tasgut bas" slogan sketch Tasgut bas.jpg
"Tasgut bas" slogan sketch

Similar to other protests, the Sudanese protestors have chanted slogans demanding the fall of the current regime. These slogans include "Freedom, peace and justice," [83] "We are all Darfur," [22] and "Just fall – that is all", [84] among others. [85]

Slogans which were widespread since 19 December 2018 included “Freedom, peace, justice” and “Revolution is the people’s choice” and video footage showed men and women, many wearing masks, shouting slogans against the government. [86]

Just fall – that is all

The slogan "Just fall – that is all" (تسقط – بس tasquṭ bas) was first used on Twitter and Facebook pages during the protests of 22 December 2018 and has thereafter been widely used. [84]

Freedom, peace and justice

This slogan was the first to be used in downtown Khartoum where demonstrators chanting "freedom, peace and justice" and "revolution is the people’s choice" were met with tear gas. The organizers of this particular march were "professionals, including doctors, engineers, and teachers." [87] [88]

We are All Darfur

The slogan "You arrogant racist, we are all Darfur!" was used in Khartoum in response to the targeting of students from Darfur [89] by National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) agents in relation to allegations of a planned attack. [90] According to Radio Dabanga, the NISS claimed that a number of Darfuri students had been trained by the Israeli Mossad to carry out acts of sabotage. [91] The 32 Darfuri students who are studying at the University of Sennar in eastern Sudan were arrested in Sinnar and transported to Khartoum where they subsequently confessed "under duress." [92]

Reactions

International organizations

Arab states

Other states

Commentary

Giorgio Cafiero, founder of Gulf States Analytics, framed the protests and the subsequent coup in Sudan in geopolitical context where regional power, mainly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, were playing a major role in what he called "a counter-revolution." Cafiero added that "if a growing number of Sudanese citizens share a perception of Gulf states pursuing counter-revolutionary agendas in Sudan, more voices across the country could begin blaming such foreign governments for dimming their hopes for achieving democratic change." [102]

See also

Related Research Articles

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