2018–19 Sudanese protests

2018–19 Sudanese protests
Part of 2018–19 Arab protests
Date19 December 2018 (2018-12-19) – 5 July 2019
(6 months, 2 weeks and 2 days)Sporadic protests continue
Caused by
Goals
Methods
Resulted in
  • Al-Bashir imposes state of emergency, dissolves central and regional governments, forms new government, and postpones constitutional amendments that would allow him to run for another term in 2020, without cancelling his candidacy[5][6]
  • Following protests, military seized power in coup d'état; Bashir overthrown and placed under arrest.[7]
  • Junta leader and de facto head of state Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, formerly defense minister and an ally of al-Bashir,[7] steps down after protests, transfers power to Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.[8]
  • Protesters demand immediate transition to a civilian government, protests continue.[9]
  • Khartoum massacre on 3 June 2019.[10]
  • Suspension of Sudan from the African Union following Khartoum massacre.[11]
  • Political Agreement for a transition to democracy made verbally on 5 July 2019[12] and in written form on 17 July 2019.[13]
  • Draft Constitutional Declaration[14][15] signed by the FFC and the TMC on 4 August 2019.[16]
Parties to the civil conflict

 Sudan

Lead figures
Non-centralized leadership
Casualties
Death(s)229+[19][20][21]
Arrested800+

On 19 December 2018, a series of demonstrations broke out in several Sudanese cities, due in part to rising costs of living and deterioration of economic conditions at all levels of society.[22] The protests quickly turned from demands for urgent economic reforms into demands for President Omar al-Bashir to step down.[23][24]

The violence of the government's reaction to these peaceful demonstrations sparked international concern. On 22 February 2019, al-Bashir declared a state of emergency and dissolved the national and regional governments, replacing the latter with military and intelligence-service officers.[25] On 8 March, al-Bashir announced that all of the women jailed for protesting against the government would be released.[26] On the weekend of 6–7 April, there were massive protests for the first time since the declaration of the state of emergency.[27] On 10 April, soldiers were seen shielding protesters from security forces,[28] and on 11 April, the military removed al-Bashir from power in a coup d'état.

Following al-Bashir's removal from power, street protests organized by the Sudanese Professionals Association and democratic opposition groups continued, calling on the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) to "immediately and unconditionally" step aside in favor of a civilian-led transitional government, and urging other reforms in Sudan.[29][9] Negotiations between the TMC and the civilian opposition to form a joint transition government took place during late April and in May, but stopped when the Rapid Support Forces and other TMC security forces killed 128 people,[30] raped 70[31] and injured others in the Khartoum massacre on 3 June.[10]

Opposition groups responded to the massacre and post-massacre arrests by carrying out a 3-day general strike from 9–11 June[32] and calling for sustained civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance until the TMC transfers power to a civilian government.[10][33] On 12 June the opposition agreed to stop the strike and the TMC agreed to free political prisoners.[34]

After renewed negotiations, a deal, called the Political Agreement, was agreed verbally between the TMC and the civilian protesters represented by the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) on 5 July 2019[12][35] and a written form[13] of the agreement was signed by the TMC and FFC on 17 July.[36] The TMC and FFC announced that they would share power to run Sudan via executive and legislative institutions and a judicial investigation of post-coup events, including the Khartoum massacre, until elections occur in mid-2022.[12][35] The Political Agreement was complemented by the Draft Constitutional Declaration,[14][15] which was initially signed by the FFC and the TMC on 4 August 2019[16] and signed more formally on 17 August.[16] The transition plan creates the Sovereignty Council as head of state, with a mixed civilian–military composition and leadership to be transferred from a military leader to a civilian leader 21 months after the transitional period begins, for a total 39-month transition period leading into elections.[37][38] Dissolution of the TMC and appointment of the expected almost all-male[39] Sovereignty Council were scheduled for 18 August 2019.[15] The Draft Constitutional Declaration[14][15] states that the Prime Minister, expected to be Abdalla Hamdok,[40] is to be appointed by the Sovereignty Council on 20 August and sworn in the following day.[15] A "comprehensive peace process" with armed opposition groups is scheduled to start on 1 September 2019.[15]

Background

Al-Bashir had ruled the country since 1989, when he led a successful coup against the elected, but increasingly unpopular, prime minister of the time, Sadiq al-Mahdi.[41] The International Criminal Court (ICC) has indicted Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western region of Darfur.[42]

In January 2018, large protests started on the streets of Khartoum, Sudan's capital, in opposition to the rising prices of the basic goods including bread. The protests grew quickly and found support from different opposition parties. Youth and women's movements also joined the protests.[43]

The Sudanese government devalued the local currency and removed wheat and electricity subsidies. Sudan's economy has struggled since Omar al-Bashir's ascent to power, but became increasingly turbulent following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, which, up until then, had represented an important source of foreign currency, because of its oil output.[44][45] The devaluation of the Sudanese pound in October 2018 led to wildly fluctuating exchange rates and a shortage of cash in circulation.[45] Long queues for basic goods such as petrol, bread, as well as cash from ATMs are a common sight. Sudan has around 70% inflation, second only to Venezuela.[45]

In August 2018, the National Congress party backed Omar Al-Bashir's 2020 presidential run, despite his increasing unpopularity and his previous declaration that he would not run in the upcoming elections.[46] These measures led to rising opposition from within the party calling for respect of the constitution, which currently prevents Al-Bashir from being reelected. Sudanese activists reacted on social media and called for a campaign against his nomination.[46]