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  • Writer's picture Surabhi Paraki

Sudan Coup: The Military Coup in the Country and Citizens' Response

Protestors near the headquarters of the Sudanese army in Khartoum, on April 11, 2019.
Protestors near the headquarters of the Sudanese army in Khartoum, on April 11, 2019. (Masarib/Ahmed Bahhar - UN)

What Is Happening In Sudan?

Sudan's military coup on October 25 threatens to undermine the country's early democratic transition, which began in 2019 when a series of protests deposed longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan's foremost military officer, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, led a coup and jailed the prime minister and other government leaders just weeks before the military was supposed to give over authority to civilians as part of a power-sharing deal.

The population has retaliated with enormous protests in the streets of Khartoum and elsewhere, and the international community has denounced the move.

About Sudan

Sudan is located in northeastern Africa, surrounded by the Red Sea, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa. It is home to home to many sub-Saharan African ethnic groups.

For more than a century, the country of Sudan included its neighbor, South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011, making it the youngest country in the world. Before this, Sudan was the largest country in Africa, making over 8% of the landmass of Africa.

Ever since the nation gained independence in 1956, it has been no stranger to violence, protests, regime changes, and overall bloodshed. The geography of the region only adds to its list of conflicts.

Sudan is located in a volatile region of Africa. Several of its neighbors have been affected by political changes and conflict, notably Ethiopia, Chad, and South Sudan. Conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region has driven tens of thousands of refugees into eastern Sudan and created military tensions in contested agricultural areas along the border since late last year.

Sudan’s Transition To Democracy:

The country began its democratic transition in April 2019 following a massive protest and the removal of President Omar al-Bashir, a radical Islamist ostracised by the West, who had governed over the nation for nearly three decades.

According to an agreement signed in August 2019, the military would share power with officials selected by civilian organizations in a ruling body known as the Sovereign Council, which will guide the country to elections by the end of 2023.

How Does The Coup Affect The Country?

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dissolved the transitional government in a coup on October 25, 2021.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dissolved the transitional government in a coup on October 25, 2021. (Marwan Ali/AP)

The military coup on the 25th of October has derailed the whole effort, dissolving what was already a shaky coalition between military and civilian parties and endangering any progress achieved. Sudan's top commander, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, organized the coup d'etat, imprisoned civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and other civilian leaders, and dismissed diplomats who opposed the takeover.

Although the military's participation is meant to be mostly ceremonial, civilians have regularly protested about military overreach in international affairs and peace efforts. Civilian parties have been accused by the military of poor management and power monopolization.

What Does This Mean For Sudan?

The military takeover jeopardizes Sudan's path to democracy, which comes just as the country is beginning to emerge from decades of autocratic leadership, global seclusion, and debilitating trade embargoes.

Sudanese people were set to celebrate their first complete civilian rule in three decades in just a few weeks. However, the military has claimed that it will rule independently, and it is uncertain whether it will hold a free election as promised.

What Is Behind Rising Tensions In The Country?

One central point of contention is the pursuit of justice regarding accusations of war crimes committed by the army and its allies during the Darfur War in 2003. The International Criminal Court (ICC) wants Bashir and the other Sudanese accused tried.

The cabinet has approved the transfer of suspects, but the Sovereign Council has not. Another is an inquiry of June 3, 2019, brutal murders of pro-democracy protestors, in which military troops are suspected. Delays in making the investigation's conclusions public have enraged activists and civic groups.

An amalgamation of rebel organizations and political parties has formed a coalition with the armed forces to destabilize the civilian government. Authorities announced in September that they had stopped an attempted coup, charging Bashir supporters of the plot.

The catalyst for Bashir's eventual downfall was a deteriorating economic slump that sent the currency plummeting and caused frequent scarcity of food and fuel. In a successful push for debt relief and international aid, the transitional administration has adopted rigorous, rapid reforms that the International Monetary Fund has closely monitored.

In the aftermath of the reforms, inflation reached record levels of over 400%, and many Sudanese say they are struggling to make ends meet. Protests about economic conditions have occurred on occasion.

Public Response To The Coup:

Sudanese people tale the streets after the coupe on October 25.
Sudanese people tale the streets after the coupe on October 25. (Omer Erdem/Anadolu Agency)

Thousands of anti-coup demonstrators came to the streets of Khartoum on Monday, some protesting, "We are walking with worry in our hearts, and worry sleeps in people's chests." They convened in several different locations.

Since Monday's demonstrations against the military takeover, the number of protestors dead in Sudan has risen to at least 11, with over 140 injured in the process.

Crowds of protesters were seen making their way towards the military's General Command in videos posted on social media. Some were spotted cutting razor wire placed alongside a road, following reports of blocked roads in various parts of the city.

In retaliation to the takeover, supporters of the civilian government have also planned a campaign of civil unrest and a strike, according to the Sudanese Ministry of Information on Facebook.

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Sources And Further Reading:


Surabhi Paraki is a Journalism and Communications student at Jain University. She is also an activist and a content writer at the International Youths Organization for Peace and Sustainability.

Inputs and Edits by Sovena Ngeth.


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