Sudan: New Protests Ahead of UN-Sponsored Talks

It’s been a week since Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned from his post, citing a lack of consensus in the country and amid warnings that Sudan was on the brink of disaster. So far, the military rulers have failed to come up with a successor and street protests are continuing unabated.

Many names have been making the round in Khartoum over the past days for a possible successor of PM Hamdok, our correspondents in Sudan are writing. But as has become evident through the toppling and reinstating of Hamdok, the job of political representative for a military junta is full of pitfalls.

Essentially, the military removed the civilian leaders when they saw fit. The reasons for the decision in the autumn was a combination of legal, economic and political concerns. Some of the military elite clearly are worried about the prospect of being held accountable for the killings of demonstrators in the first round of the revolution in 2019. This however is a key demand of the pro-democracy protestors who haven’t forgotten about their fallen comrades and now already mourn new dead.

Where Is the Country Heading?

Also, somewhat less immediate, is the concern about losing their economic prowess. The military and allied security outfits directly and indirectly own and control a multitude of companies, including arms manufacturers and lucrative mines, according to observers. The civilian leaders of the previous power-sharing agreement wanted to gain control of these assets to generate much needed income for the central government. But this of course wasn’t too popular with those who benefit from the arrangement.

Last but not least there’s the overarching issue of deciding where the country is heading. Neighbors such as Egypt, with whom the military is said to enjoy good relations, have made their own experiences with an abrupt departure from military rule to democratic conditions. There, elections have led to the instalment of an Islamist government and a subsequent return to the status quo ante.

A Very Fragmented Setting

Of course, the case of Sudan is different from Egypt’s, because the previous regime of Omar al-Bashir itself was Islamist and many of the former elite remain in positions within the bureaucracy and army. So add to the pro-democracy citizens (supported by the West), the military and security (supported mainly by Gulf states and Egypt) the old Islamist groups (supported by Qatar and Turkey) and, last but not least, the multitude of regional and ethnic groups and you end up with a very fragmented setting.

General al-Burhan has promised to install a new prime minister after consultation with civilian groups, but whether this consultation includes the Forces for Freedom and Change, which dominated the civilian part of the previous power-sharing agreement, remains open, according to correspondents. Whether the FFC would actually want to enter into a new agreement with the military under the given conditions is also an open question.

The Death Toll Is Rising

Meanwhile, the pro-democracy movement has called unprecedented demonstrations with protests taking place across the cities of this country of 40 million people. Clearly, the activists feel betrayed by the military and mourn an already substantial amount of dead, said to have reached 62 over the weekend, according to “France 24”. The United Nations is said to work on a negotiation process and the Security Council will discuss the events in Sudan on Wednesday.

The Sudanese Professional Association, which was a prominent component of the first revolution in 2019, warned against talks and called for the overthrow of the putschists, according to “France 24”.

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