The situation in Sudan is still in flux as democracy protesters have refused to disperse from the streets of Khartoum, the capital, three days after longtime strongman Omar Al Bashir was ousted in a military coup. How long can they keep challenging the military’s grip on power, only time will tell. But clearly – at present – the protesters are in the driving seat as they have forced out two powerful generals in a matter of days.
Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, who took reins of interim council after two back to back resignations of fellow army-men, insisted that the council would govern for two years. This idea has been rejected outright by the opposition groups who want a civilian transitional government. In the three decades that he ruled the Afro-Arab nation, Bashir ruined the economy, earned an international genocide indictment and often used brute force to suppress dissent. His day of reckoning came on Thursday when he was removed from power by the military following months of street protests against his rule. Protests against Bashir’s government began in December, initially over price hikes and shortages of basic items but soon shifted to calls for him to step down.
The unrest was specifically in response to an increase in the price of bread, a staple for most Sudanese, and an acute shortage of fuel that saw motorists waiting overnight at petrol stations in the hope of filling up their cars the next day. In a sign of softening stance, opposition groups have met the military to discuss ‘transitional arrangements’. The Sudan Professionals Association (SPA), which has been spearheading the demonstrations, said the council’s response ‘did not achieve any of the demands of the people’ and urged protests to continue. The next few days will determine how things pan out in a country riven by drought, conflict and famine.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2019.