Crisis In Sudan – Paramilitary Opens Fire On Pro-Democracy Group


Sudan currently faces a political crisis after paramilitary forces opened fire on pro-democracy protestors. According to the New York Times, at least 108 demonstrators have been killed along with hundreds of others injured in Khartoum on Monday. The paramilitary troops consist of a seven-member Transitional Military Council (TMC) led by Lt-Gen. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan. The opposition consists of an organization of Sudanese doctors, health workers, and lawyers called the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA).

The violence ensued by the TMC violated the settlement regarding the electoral protocol following the removal of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The unrest can be traced back to December 2018 when President Bashir’s government-imposed emergency austerity measures in an attempt to avert economic collapse. The cuts to bread and fuel subsidies sparked demonstrations in the east, eventually spreading and taking hold of Khartoum.

The protests expanded to include pro-democracy demands, more specifically the removal of President Al-Bashir and his government, who have been in charge of Sudan for three decades. The demonstrations escalated on April 6th, when demonstrators occupied the square in front of the military’s headquarters demanding the ousting of the president. Five days later, the military announced the president’s removal from office.

According to BBC, a council of generals assumed power on April 11th, but it has struggled to restore peace and stability in the country. Talks between the ruling generals and protest leaders were mediated under the umbrella group Alliance for Freedom and Change and concluded on May 15 in support for a three-year transition period to civilian rule. The two parties agreed on the structure of a new government consisting of a sovereign council, a cabinet, and a legislative body.

However, on June 3rd, the military leaders brushed aside the previous agreement and announced that new elections would take place within nine months. Al-Bashir’s rule is so deeply entrenched that an extended transition is needed to dismantle the political network and re-establish governance with full contestation and inclusiveness.

As reported by the BBC, the U.S. condemned TMC’s violence calling it a “brutal attack,” the U.K. voiced a similar concern as the former British ambassador to Sudan, Rosalind Marsden, told the BBC that “the snap election would simply pave the way for much of the old regime to come back into power.” However, the ‘international will’ to stop this violence appears weak as Russia and China have vetoed UN Security Council action, few Arab nations support the paramilitary group, and the African Union has temporarily suspended Sudan.

The head of the TMC called the opposition group to continue negotiations with the protest leaders, an offer was made, which the SPA declined promptly, asserting that they would not engage in renegotiations while the violence pursues. The SPA group leaders, as reported by the New York Times, said they would “continue demonstrations and strikes to put pressure on the military” until those responsible for the deaths this past week are brought to justice and power is handed over to a civilian authority. As the world mourns those who lay dead by the Nile river, civilians continue in fear as the paramilitaries have proven they have no qualms about escalating the issue into further violence.

Marina Peñéñory

Marina is an undergraduate student pursuing an International Relations degree at Pomona College, U.S. She grew up in Indonesia, but is originally from Argentina. Her interests include ASEAN security and cooperation, specifically countering violent extremism in Southeast Asia.

About Marina Peñéñory

Marina is an undergraduate student pursuing an International Relations degree at Pomona College, U.S. She grew up in Indonesia, but is originally from Argentina. Her interests include ASEAN security and cooperation, specifically countering violent extremism in Southeast Asia.