The Sudanese Coup And Future Technocratic Government

On Monday the 25th, a coup in Sudan has upended endeavours into developing the country’s democracy, fracturing arrangements and connections that had been made between military and civilian factions across Sudan. Abdel Fattah al-Burham, a Sudanese politician and former member of the Sovereignty Council, detained the civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other leaders, firing numerous ambassadors and becoming the de-facto head of state.

The country’s democratic project began two years ago, in 2019 after the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir was ousted amid mass protests and political push back. Following this change, civil society, military groups and protest leaders created a power-sharing arrangement that placed all key groups in charge of the country, committing to transitioning to full civilian rule in the following four years.

There were signs that a coup was impending, for example, the pact between the Transitional Military Council led by Al-Burhan and the Forces of Freedom and Change, a coalition party of opposition groups, laid the groundwork for an unstable and unrefined alliance between the parties. A peace deal signed in 2020, initiated rebel groups into the democratizing process, resulting in more large-scale groups with competing interests. All of these tensions had been rising, compiling as pressure grew for the military to retain its commitment to hand over its power and influence just as it became increasingly clear they had no interest in doing so.

As protestors and the civilian-led government continued to place accountability on the forming government, primarily focusing on the military faction’s abuse of security forces, the military faction began to develop and protect its interests of self-preservation. Joseph Tucker, a senior expert for the Greater Horn of Africa at the U.S. Institute of Peace, stated that the military faction likely believed that the region would not denounce the coup or sudden change of leadership, an idea that was supported by Al-Bashir loyalists. These loyalists had previously attempted a coup that brought divisions into the public eye.

In response to the sudden coup, however, protestors entered the streets across Sudan to denounce the new self-appointed leader and the military takeover. In response, the Sudanese military removed civilian access to the internet, so that Sudanese civilians could not identify or know the scope of the resistance. This removal of the internet also suppressed civilians’ ability to broadcast content from the protests to other countries and document the extent of the effects and scale of the protests. Civilians also struggled to document the security forces’ response to the protests and the brutality enforced on protests outside major cities. Roughly 170 people have been injured, and seven protestors killed, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported that many pro-democracy leaders have been detained.

The coup has nullified the possibility of a future power-sharing arrangement, with all trust in military factions waning in the wake of a sudden take-over and seizing of power. However, the civil society that initially ousted Omar Al-Bashir remains well organized with essentially figureheads, calling for continued protests after recognizing the military faction’s push for civilian control long before the coup was initiated. Al-Burhan has stated that the military will appoint a technocratic government, formed around establishing an elite group of technical experts to advise and control the country and that an election would be planned in July 2023, claims that have not yet been backed by any substantive evidence.

It is likely that this coup, like many others, is not a subsidiary to a natural or peaceful transition toward democracy or the installation of a more just or representative system. Remaining political figures from the previous power-sharing arrangement should be internationally supported, and calls for Sudanese civilians’ right to the internet and distribution of images and numbers of the protests should be enforced.

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