On June 30th in Sudan, demonstrations organized by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association and by Resistance Committees occurred in Khartoum, Kassala, and Darfur. The protesters are gathering despite the closing of city streets and the use of tear gas by police. Participants are utilizing the phrase popular during last year’s ousting of former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir: “Freedom, peace, and justice.”
The protesters are said to be demanding more input from citizens in the transition from al-Bashir’s leadership to a more democratic government. The current administration governing over the country’s transition is made up of both the Sudanese military and leader Abdalla Hamdock. The conditions that were decided upon by the members of the joint leadership arrangement, such as the establishment of civilian state governors and trials for al-Bashir and other officials from his administration have not been fulfilled in their entirety as the agreement requested. Also, Hamdock’s efforts have recently been disrupted by the pandemic and an economic crisis, both of which have led to a lack of popular approval of the current political situation.
In response to the less-than-adequate fulfillment of the transition agreement, protesters have taken to organizing in the streets of Sudanese cities again. According to Al Jazeera‘s Hiba Morgan, the protesters are demonstrating to “correct the path of the revolution.” On the other hand, according to Al Jazeera, Hamdock recently announced that “The transitional government…[is] aiming to achieve the highest levels of consensus and popular approval.” This attempt has been made difficult by the economic situation and by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leaders in Sudan should listen to the protesters about who they think is best fit to oversee the transition to a more democratic administration. Citizens should be involved in decisions being made and there should be representatives in place such as civilian governors who can convey the demands and thoughts of the greater population. If citizens aren’t comfortable with the military’s involvement in the transition and the government, then that concern should be taken into account.
A further movement away from a more democratic situation will only lead to more dissatisfaction among citizens and unrest in the country. Also, Hamdock needs to be transparent with the actions of the transitional government and needs to be honest with citizens. The conditions made during the agreement between the opposition coalition and the military should be honored. If they aren’t, that’s a sign that the transition isn’t making much progress in terms of the journey towards democracy.
Omar al-Bashir was driven from office by the Sudanese military last year after citizens protested his time in the office for almost 30 years. The Sudanese Professionals’ Association and Resistance Committees helped organize the most recent protests and actively supported the removal of the former leader as well. After al-Bashir was removed, an opposition coalition agreed with the military to lead the country as one administration until free elections can be held again. However, the conditions surrounding this agreement haven’t been honored by the military as of late.
In the coming weeks, it remains to be seen whether the protests will lead to the further spread of COVID-19 in Sudan. Also, whether or not donors continue to give funds to assist Sudan with its economic crisis will dictate how effectively the transition can progress promptly. In the future, Hamdock should continue to respond to protesters’ demands and should attempt to move the country forward as planned while preparations are made for the next elections.