Sudan Domestic Issues and Conflicts

From the coup against President al-Bashir to the interim government

Audio report on the background of the protests that led to the overthrow of al-Bashir (05:48 min)

The protests of the population that emerged in December 2018, triggered by an abrupt doubling of the price of bread, but accompanied by general dissatisfaction with the ongoing economic misery and the political situation, escalated in April 2019. The military, under the leadership of the previous Defense Minister and Vice-President Awad Ibn Ouf, then deposed the incumbent President Omar al-Bashir on April 11, 2019.

The military council had declared a state of emergency for a period of three months, abolished the office of president, dissolved parliament and government and repealed the constitution. All political prisoners should be released. Elections should take place after two years. After only one day in office, Awad Ibn Ouf resigned. He was succeeded by the Inspector General of the Sudanese Armed Forces, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. He announced the resignation of the head of the secret service, who is held responsible for the brutal crackdown on the demonstrators, and initially lifted the curfew.

A coup in Sudan – Al Jazeera (English, 24:30 min.)

Video with a detailed description of the coup in Sudan

The opposition movement continued the protests. Since the military was always the mainstay of al-Bashir’s government, the opposition saw the coup only as an exchange of people, the danger of permanent military rule, and called for a civil interim government. The abuses denounced by the protesters range from dissatisfaction with the economic situation to inadequate political freedoms, rampant corruption and gender-specific issues. In many cases, protests were initiated by women, wrapped in traditional white clothes, and thus reminiscent of earlier women’s protests.

Will Sudan’s coup leaders make concessions to protesters? Al Jazeera (English, 25:20 min)

Video contribution with assessments of the coup plotters’ relationship to the protest movement

After months of protests and tough negotiations, representatives of the ruling military and the opposition movement signed an agreement on August 17, 2019 to set up a transitional government. The core of the agreement is the division of power with the creation of a council made up of five civilians and five military personnel and one additional member to be appointed by both parties. The transitional government is limited to a period of three years and three months. Subsequently, a civilian government is to emerge from free elections. In the early days of the interim government, there was only a cautious transition to fragile attempts at democratization.

Conflict in Darfur

According to constructmaterials, the Darfur conflict has been raging since 2003. So far it has cost the lives of more than 300,000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million people. The two most important rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the now split SLA (SLA-AW and SLA-MM), which arose from black African ethnic groups in Darfur, accuse the Sudanese government of marginalizing the region and suppressing the population. The Sudanese government, supported by Arab militias, reacts to this attack with an armed campaign.

Conflict in Darfur

Origin and history of the conflict

The multi-ethnic province of Darfur with its bizarre political borders explains, at best, part of the current conflict. Even in pre-colonial times, the Fur Sultanates had armed conflicts with the Baggara, especially with the Reehmenat. Darfur was the center for the slave trade with people from Bahr el Ghazal in the 19th century. Confrontations with the Arab slave traders were the order of the day. Other problems were and still are the different economic sources. The Fur and Masalit are sedentary farmers. The Baggara and Zaghawa are cattle and camel nomads. Different ways of life and a lack of resources such as water and land constantly lead to conflict. In addition, there is a shortage due to persistent periods of drought and a sharp increase in the population.

In fact, the population feels marginalized by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum. There has been little support from the Khartoum government for health care, education and water supply. Against this marginalization of Khartoum, the conflict escalated in 2003. The two (black African) rebel groups – Sudan Liberation Movement / Army (SLM / A) – supported by the USA and Eritrea – and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) against Khartoum began. The government then took action against the rebel groups with its own military and with the help of the Janjawid militias. The Janjawid militias are charged with war crimes and systematic ethnic cleansing through genocide and displacement to neighboring Chad. The Sudanese government denied complicity of the Muslim militias. Research has shown that Darfur is rich in oil sources. In addition, mineral resources such as uranium and copper are suspected.

Darfur – Autopsy of a Tragedy

The multi-part documentary examines the background and historical roots of the Darfur conflict

Peace efforts and current developments

In 2007, after a long diplomatic struggle, the Sudanese government gave its consent to a peacekeeping force of the United Nations and the African Union. 26,000 men were stationed in Darfur in 2007 as the largest peacekeeping mission in the world.