On Saturday, October 16th, thousands of protesters gathered in front of the presidential palace in the capital of Khartoum, rejecting the notion of a transitional government and calling for a military coup instead. This demonstration comes at a time of great instability in Sudan, as the country is currently dealing with a difficult political crisis. Earlier in September, forces loyal to the previous regime of Omar al-Bashir attempted a coup against the current government, leading to instability and calls for changes of cabinet members. With economic uncertainty and unrest, it’s possible that a new conflict will start in the country, or at the very least, that steps toward democratic reforms will be fully reversed.
In order to understand what is currently happening, however, it is important to see why the situation has become so bad in Sudan. Until a few years ago, Sudan was governed by the tyrannical government of Omar Al-Bashir. The dictator, accused of several crimes against humanity, was toppled in 2019. The protests were organized by a breakaway faction of the Forces of Freedom and Change, the same civilian group that led the anti-Bashir demonstrations and were an essential part to the transition, according to France24. Currently, the country is in a “political and economic slump” according to AfricaNews, which has made people disenchanted with the transitional government. Given that elections were promised by 2023, pro-military demonstrations like these cast doubt on the likelihood that Sudan will see free and fair elections in the near future.
Despite it seeming strange that people who recently supported a transition to civilian government are now supporting a military coup, the failings of the transitional government have become seemingly too large in number. Those in the Eastern part of the country are complaining of economic abandonment, as well as worsening the economic conditions of many Sudanese citizens with IMF-backed reforms. Many are calling for “fair solutions” for the East of the country, which the government has promised to discuss. With high inflation and an attempted coup last month, the current developments in Sudan have made citizens discontent with the current government, and with a government filled with internal tensions, it is unlikely that there will be an adequate response to the socio-economic problems facing Sudanese citizens anytime soon.
Overall, the recent protests are concerning for the prospects of democracy and continued peace in Sudan. With an already problematic economy and skyrocketing inflation, the political instability in the country may lead to the dissolution of the transitional government, destroying the progress that Sudanese citizens have made in recent years. However, in order to properly address the crisis, the government must deal with the high inflation that is affecting the population of Sudan, as well as problems of inequality and starvation, particularly in the East. It remains to be seen how well the government will respond to the latest protests, but achieving fair solutions that look out for all Sudanese people is essential for maintaining stability and support for the upcoming 2023 elections.
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