Sudan, a North African country, with an estimated population of 39 million people (2019) is in crisis and has drawn the attention of the world following reports of killings and rape in an ongoing military conflict. Currently, Sudan is in the midst of a political conflict after the ousting of former president, Omar al-Bashir.
The military and representatives of the protesters had been in talks over who would be in control after Omar al-Bashir was overthrown. However, all negotiations were halted when Sudanese security forces cleared a group of protesters in central Khartoum. There were reports of beating, stabbing and shooting leading to the death of many protesters. There is no exact number of dead people, but, Sudanese Doctors’ committee released the names of 112 people who have been confirmed to be dead.
A young man of 26 years, Mohammed Hashim Mattar was among the protesters shot dead. Consequently, his favourite colour, indigo blue has become the country’s symbol of pro-democracy struggle with thousands of social media users switching their Twitter and Instagram avatars to the colour, with the hashtag #blueforsudan
Here are the things you need to know
- Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, 75, is the seventh president of Sudan from 1989 to 2019. In 1989, Omar al-Bashir led a group of young officers that ousted the then democratic president, Sadiq al-Mahdi. On April 19, 2019, Omar al-Bashir was ousted in a military coup d’etat.
- In an attempt to stave off economic collapse, President Bashir’s government, imposed emergency measures. With emptied bank machines, tripled cost of bread and fuel subsidies led to protests calling for the removal of Omar al-Bashir after a 30-year rule.
- On April 6, the square in front of the military headquarters was occupied by protesters demanding that the army should forcefully remove al-Bashir. The ousting of the president was announced five days later by the military
- Henry Okello Oryem, state minister for foreign affairs, said Uganda will consider granting Omar al-Bashir asylum
Who is in power?
- As at now, the military is in control. A transitional seven-man committee led by Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan is in charge.
- Though the council said it needs to be in power to ensure peace and security, it has not been able to return the country to ease.
- Lt-Gen Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, widely known as Hemedti, who commands the RSF is suspected by many to be an important part of the control.
- Following a clampdown on protesters by the military on the 3rd of June, which left many dead, the military has come under intense criticism by other countries and international bodies
And the protesters…
- 22-year-old Alaa Salah has been an important part of the demonstration. In a picture that went viral, she was seen on a car chanting, “Thowrah” meaning “Revolution”
- The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) took on the organization of the protests.
- Though people of all ages can be found on the streets protesting, majority of them are youths and a reasonable number of women
- On 15th of May, the protesters agreed with the military to a three-year transition period to civilian rule
- The military wants to conduct an election after nine months. This idea was met with disapproval from the protesters leading to another protest which claimed lives.
- There are talks on how to bring peace to Sudan
The military and protesters; Agreements
- There was an agreement by the military and protestants that there should be a three-year transition to civilian rule
- According to the protesters, al-Bashir’s 30 years of governance needs at least, a period of three years to destroy his political network for a free and fair election
- Both sides agree on a new structure of government which would have;
- A sovereign council
- A cabinet
- A legislative body
- The military ignored all agreements and said an election will hold in six months
- The protestors are protesting against this leading to lose of lives
Update: August – The power sharing agreement
Hundreds of people took to Khartoum, the country’s capital, chanting revolutionary songs and waving national flags after the country’s military rulers and opposition coalition signed a hard-won constitutional declaration.
What the agreement says…
- The transitional period will last for 36 months from the day of the signing of the constitutional declaration.
- There will be a sovereign council, which will oversee the creation of a council of ministers and a legislative council.
- The sovereign council will be an 11-member governing body, which will rule the country for just over three years. The body will be composed of five military personnel chosen by the TMC and five civilians selected by the FFC. The 11th member will be a civilian chosen by consensus between the two parties.
- The sovereign council will be headed by a military general during the first 21 months, followed by a civilian for the remaining 18 months.
- The FFC will appoint the prime minister.
- The prime minister will name a cabinet of 20 ministers from a list of nominees presented by the FFC, excluding the interior and defence ministers. The latter pair will be appointed by the military members on the sovereign council.
- Legal action cannot be taken against members of the three councils without permission from the legislative council. The decision to lift immunity would require the approval of a majority of legislators.
- The legislative council will be independent. Its members cannot exceed 300 people, and at least 40 percent of the seats will be reserved for women.
- The FFC will appoint 67 percent of the legislative council’s members, while other political groups that are not associated with al-Bashir will select the rest.
- Sudan’s armed forces and its paramilitary Rapid Support Forces will be led by the commander of the armed forces, who is also the head of the sovereign council.
- The council of ministers may ask the sovereign council to announce a state of national emergency if the unity and safety of the country are at risk. Such a request must be presented to the legislative council within 15 days, and will become invalid if the assembly fails to approve it.
- New policies will be developed over the next six months in consultation with armed groups in various regions of the country to achieve comprehensive and lasting peace.
The constitutional declaration also contains a chapter on rights and freedoms for Sudanese citizens. It says:
- Everyone is equal before the law.
- No one shall be arbitrarily arrested unless for reasons stipulated by law.
- No one shall be subject to torture, humiliation, or ill-treatment.
- The state will protect the social, civil, political, cultural, and economic rights of women, which shall be equal to those of men.
- Everyone has the right to a fair trial; the accused is innocent until proven guilty in accordance with the law.
- Every citizen has the right to express themselves freely without limitations, and has the right to receive or publish information and access the media in accordance with the law.
- Every citizen has the right to access the internet in accordance with the law.
- Everyone has the right to peaceful assembly and the right to create and/or join political parties, NGOs, syndicates, and professional unions.
Al-Bashir faces trial over corruption
Sudan’s ex-president is facing charges related to “possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally”.
The 75 year old, who seized power in a military coup on June 30, 1989, and stayed in office until April 11, 2019, when he was overthrown and arrested by the armed forces was also declared wanted by the ICC.
He is wanted by the ICC for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Prosecutors have also opened other criminal probes against al-Bashir, including on charges of money laundering, financing “terrorism” and “ordering the killing of protesters” – the latter is an offence that carries the death penalty in Sudan.
To be updated…