For almost a week now, there have been protests and civilians pushing back into national pressure in Sudan since the military took over.
The action of the coup leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has endangered Sudan’s international standing as a nascent democracy.
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The country, which suffered from the long term rule of two military juntas, Jafar Al Numeri and Umar Albashir, have tested freedom in the last two years, and democracy was just around the corner when the putschists struck.
The Sudanese prime minister, Abdallah Hamdok, his wife, and his cabinet were arrested and the military announced that they were in charge, but thousands of protesters trooped to the streets with the message, “No to military rule; the revolution will go on.”
What surprised everyone was the first military response to the protesters.
All roads leading to the capital, Khartoum, were blocked and the internet was shut. In the brutal response, soldiers fired live ammunitions at the protesters, killing at least seven, and over one hundred have been injured. But the protest continued despite this violence.
A video footage from Khartoum on Monday showed large groups in the streets, including many women. Barricades of burning tyres can be seen, with plumes of black smoke rising in various parts of the city.
The army tried hard to justify their actions; they blamed politicians, saying it was not a coup but basically a measure to correct the path of Sudan transition.
“There are people talking about racism driving the country to reach civil war, which would lead to its fragmentation, starving its unity, stability, consistency and the society. These threats were in front of us and we saw it broadcast, and everybody was talking about it. This issue has a direct impact on national security and the armed forces.
“Nobody is buying what the army is saying. This is a power grab playing simple. The Sudan Sovereign Council was to have a rotating chair, a military leader for 21 months and a civilian leader for 18 months. At the end of this period in 2023, there will be elections. That was the plan, except the army has no intention of sticking to it,” the coup leader, al-Burhan, said on a live broadcast.
In 1994, a military officer, Umar Albashir, ousted the Sudan prime minister and declared himself prime minister and defence minister on the same day. Albashir ruled Sudanese for 30 years.
Before Albashir was toppled in 2019, Sudan was in every international black list, especially for his alleged support of Islamic extremists. And the country’s economy was in a doom.
Sudan’s economy has long been in dire straits and ordinary people are likely to experience more pain.
Shortages of bread and skyrocketing prices of basic commodities led to mass protests and the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir two years ago.
Obviously, the protesters are trying to prevent a repeat, but the question is: Will they succeed? But some analysts believe that a lot depend on the international community.
Most of the western powers have condemned the coup, and the United States had suspended aid worth $700, and the same will happen to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.
Basically, this is the question of the survival of Sudan; and without foreign loan, this military cannot rule. They need the money, and that is the international community’s leverage.
What role did the AU play?
The African Union, of which Sudan is a member, said it had learned with “deep dismay,” of the situation and called for “strict respect of human rights.”
The AU also condemned the coup, suspended Sudan from all its activities and asked the putschists to immediately release the prime minister and return the country to democracy.
Similarly, the same call was made by the European Union, United Nations and the Arab League. Following the condemnation, the prime minister and his wife were released last Tuesday, but the other civilian officials arrested on the day of the coup remained in detention and their locations unknown.
However, the question is: Would these be enough to reverse the military coup?
A former Nigerian ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mr Dauda Danladi, said that with pressure from the AU and the international community, the military would hand over to civilians.
“The AU was a dream of Africa’s great leaders like Kwame Nkurma, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa and the rest, to provide a united Africa. It was a dream to have the muscles, unity to speak and stand on what Africa believed in.
“Having come out to say that what happened in Sudan is unacceptable, already the international community has keyed in. The US has suspended over $700million aid to Sudan, and the country largely depends on international aids.
“Also, the relief from the $60billion outstanding debt that sustains the Sudan economy has been suspended.
“The military cannot survive in a situation of rancour and chaos. Pressure has been mounted internally by various organisations, civil and public service. The medical sector has all downed their tools. It is going to cripple the capacity of good governance in Sudan.
“My belief is that international and internal pressure in Sudan will compel the military junta to put in place a transitional council, with the hope that it would build on the progress that have been achieved by the outgoing council, so that there would be a quick resolution toward a free and fair election to be conducted for an inclusive government in Sudan,” he said.
What makes Sudan’s case more dangerous
What makes the coup in Sudan more dangerous is that there is a clean-cut division between those who are pro democracy in the country. And if care is not taken, it may escalate into a civil war, which Sudan suffered for quite a long time.
Also, Sudan is a country that has suffered from poverty as it relies on aids and oil from Southern Sudan, which they would have shared, but it slipped away after a referendum that secured their independence.
Analysts like Danladi have called for the need for the AU and the international community to intervene and solve the economic problem facing Sudan, as well as ensure the restoration of democracy, adding, “Otherwise, what will happen, we don’t know.”