For 30 years, the people of Sudan have been “living in terror” under the regime of Omar Al-Bashir. Now, after months of protests, Al-Bashir has been forced to step down.
Defence Minister Awan Ibn Ouf made the announcement on the evening of 11 April, stating that the country would be placed in a three-month state of emergency and a two-year transitional period into a new government. He also declared that the Constitution was being suspended, and airspace was being closed for 24 hours. In addition, border crossings were said to be shut until further notice, and political prisoners were to be released, but at the time of the announcement there were not definite details on what these actions would entail.
Following the announcement of Al-Bashir stepping down, protestors have remained in the streets, demanding that the two-year transitional period be run not by the military, but by civilians. Important players in the protests, including the Sudanese Professionals Association, have said this answer is simply a new coup, and not the political overhaul that is required.
In retaliation, a curfew has been put in place, in hopes of deterring the protesters. However, it is unlikely that this will have a significant impact, based on what we have seen from the protests. The initial goal of the demonstrations was not for Al-Bashir to step down, but to express anger towards him as the spearhead of a government which ignored the needs of its people, and instead prioritized the military and the oligarchy. There were immediate criticisms of the announcement that the transitional government will ignore these demands and continue to run the country in the same way that has caused so much pain and strife.
The protests began in December, following years of economic decline since Sudan achieved independence in 2011. The aims of the protesters varied, and included women fighting for equality, but the primary source of unrest was the rising prices of basic necessities. Furthermore, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir himself for war crimes, and it is unsure what will come of this following his step-down. The protests have not aimed to harm others, although they have often caused damage to property in hopes of making a significant impact and drawing attention. However, casualties have still been high, with violence springing from retaliation by the government and military of Sudan.
At this stage, it is difficult to predict what will happen in the wake of the protests. However, pushing Al-Bashir to step down provides hope that the civilians of Sudan will be able to build a more peaceful society.