Sudan has descended into crisis after the military dissolved the country’s power-sharing government and declared a state of emergency on Monday.
The move has crushed hopes for a peaceful transition of power following the ousting of former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
What’s going on in Sudan?
Sudan had been ruled by an uneasy alliance between the military and civilian groups since 2019, but on Monday, the military effectively took control.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his wife were detained and taken to an undisclosed location. Multiple government ministers and officials were also arrested.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s armed forces, dissolved the power-sharing Sovereign Council and transitional government.
He said the power-sharing agreement with civilian members of the country’s transitional sovereign council “became a conflict” over the past two years, “threatening peace and unity” in Sudan.
Several articles of the constitution have been suspended and state governors removed, Burhan said.
Who is Burhan?
Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, is behind the military takeover.
He had been chief of the Sovereign Council, a hybrid civilian-military body set up to guide Sudan to democracy. As leader of the council, he served as head of state for the last two years.
Burhan was supposed to relinquish control of the council to a civilian leader in the next few weeks. Instead, he dissolved the council, saying in a televised statement that he would hold elections in July 2023 and hand over to an “independent and fair representative government” then.
How did the current troubles start?
When Bashir was ousted in a 2019 coup, ending his brutal three-decade-long rule, Sudan’s military leadership assumed control to oversee the transition of power, forming the Transitional Military Council.
But the council was strongly opposed by a pro-democracy movement which called instead for civilian rule. After a weeks-long standoff, the two sides agreed to form a Sovereign Council that would govern “for the next three years or a little longer.”
Under thedeal struck in July 2019, the military council would be in charge of the country’s leadership for the first 21 months. A civilian administration would then rule the council over the following 18 months.
But it has proved to be a shaky alliance. The triumphant mood that swept the nation after Bashir’s removal has soured, with tensions between the two sides mounting as they fought to maintain control over the nation’s future.
Did the coup come as a surprise?
Not entirely. Adam Hireika, an aide to Hamdok, told CNN the premier was aware of the army’s plans and had been under pressure to dissolve the government.
Hireika said he visited Hamdok on Sunday evening where he discussed the current state of affairs. He said Hamdok had just met with Burhan.
On Monday, the Information Ministry said Hamdok had been under pressure to release a statement “in support of the takeover.” Instead, it said, he called on pro-democracy protestors take to the streets in peaceful protest.
Why is it happening?
Tensions had been rising after some politicians, including Hamdok, pushed for a full transition to civilian rule by November 17, in keeping with the original transitional agreement.
The situation escalated last month, when a military coup d’etat attributed to forces loyal to Bashir failed, resulting in most of the officers involved being arrested.
In the weeks since, military leaders have been demanding reforms to the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and the replacement of the cabinet. Civilian leaders accused them of a power grab.
Throngs of Sudanese protesters took to the streets last Thursday, demanding that the 2019 transition deal be honored and calling for an elected government. There were also pro-military protests opposing the civilian government.
How has the international community reacted?
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres condemned the coup and called for the release of the prime minister and other officials, he said in a tweet Monday, adding that the UN would “continue to stand” with the people of Sudan.
At a press briefing, the White House said the Biden administration was “deeply alarmed” by events unfolding in Sudan, while the United Kingdom called the coup an “unacceptable betrayal of the Sudanese people.”
What does this mean for US aid?
The United States had high hopes for Sudan’s transition to democracy and, in recent weeks, has attempted to avert a potential military takeover.
The US removed Sudan from its state sponsors of terror list last year and, in June, it supported a $50 billion debt relief package for the country. As tensions have escalated in recent weeks, the Biden administration has voiced its support for the civilian-led transition to democracy in Sudan, and emphasized any attempt by military actors to thwart it would have consequences on planned US assistance.
Over the weekend, the US sent its top regional envoy, Jeffrey Feltman, to Khartoum to discuss the democratic transition with Prime Minister Hamdok, Gen. Burhan and Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, urging for “all actors to recommit to working together” to implement the agreement. Just after his visit, the Sudanese military launched its takeover.
The White House on Monday condemned the coup and paused $700 million in emergency assistance to Sudan intended to support the democratic transition — critical aid for a country grappling with a growing economic crisis.
What do the protesters want?
Thousands of protesters opposing the coup took to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, on Monday, some chanting: “We are walking holding worry in our hearts and worry sleeps in people’s chests.” They gathered in multiple locations.
Four peoplewere killed and at least 80 were injured as a result of gunfire during the demonstrations, the Sudanese Central Doctors Committee said in a statement on Facebook. The Committee, which is aligned with the civil component of the now-dissolved Sovereign Council, blamed the military for the shooting. CNN could not verify these claims.
Sudanese demonstrators rally in the capital Khartoum, on October 25, 2021.
Videos on social media showed crowds of people making their way towards the military’s General Command. Some could be seen removing razor wire that had been placed across a road amid reports of street closures in several parts of the city.
Supporters of civilian rule have also announced a program of civil disobedience and a strike in response to the military takeover, the Ministry of Information said on Facebook.
Where does this leave the democratic transition?
The military takeover threatens to derail Sudan’s path to democracy, just as the country has begun to resurface after decades of autocratic rule, global isolation and crippling economic sanctions.
In just a few weeks, Sudanese people were poised to celebrate their first full civilian leadership in three decades. But now, the military has declared it will rule on its own, and it is unclear whether it will make good on its promise for a free election.
Where is Omar al-Bashir?
The chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague issued arrest warrants in 2009 and 2010 for Bashir on charges of genocide and war crimes related to Sudan’s military campaign in Darfur between 2003 and 2008.
Earlier this year the government announced it would hand the former president over to the ICC, along with other officials wanted over the Darfur conflict.
The former president is currently in prison in Sudan; he was sentenced to two years for corruption and illegitimate possession of foreign currency in 2019. He also faces another trial in Sudan over his role in the 1989 coup which brought him to power.
How we got here: key dates
- January 1, 1956
Sudan gains independence after an agreement between the UK and Egypt.
- March 27, 1972
Seventeen years of civil war between northern Khartoum forces and southern Anya-Nya rebels ends.
- June 30, 1989
Lt. Gen. Omar al-Bashir leads a coup against Sudan’s Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi following years of civil war.
- October 16, 1993
Bashir becomes president of Sudan when the Revolutionary Command Council is dissolved and Sudan is restored to civilian rule.
- February 2003
Violence erupts in Darfur. Estimated 300,000 people are killed in the conflict between 2003 and 2008, according to the UN.
- January 9, 2005
A peace agreement between the north and the south includes independence for southern Sudan within six years.
- March 4, 2009
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague issues an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of genocide and war crimes related to the military campaign in Darfur between 2003 and 2008.
- July 9, 2011
South Sudan becomes an independent nation.
- February 22, 2019
Bashir declares a year-long state of emergency in response to months of protests nationwide and calls for his resignation.
- April 11, 2019
Bashir is ousted in a military coup.
- June 3, 2019
Troops attack pro-democracy demonstrators in Khartoum, killing at least 100 people.
- July 5, 2019
Sudan’s military leadership and the country’s pro-democracy movement announce a power-sharing agreement. A new government is led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
- December 2019
Bashir is sentenced to two years in a correctional facility after being found guilty of corruption and illegitimate possession of foreign currency.
- July 21, 2020
Bashir’s trial over his role in the 1989 coup d’etat starts.
- August 11, 2021
The Sudanese government says it will hand Bashir over to the ICC.
- September 21, 2021
A coup attempt attributed to Bashir’s supporters fails.
- October 25, 2021
The military dissolves Sudan’s ruling council and transitional government and declares a state of emergency. Hamdok is arrested.
Source: The International Criminal Court