Thousands of protesters poured into the streets of Sudan’s major cities on October 31, to protest last week’s coup led by the country’s military forces. Largely youths, the protesters called for the restoration of the democratic transition process run by the civilian government and demanded the release of civilian authorities placed under arrest following the coup.
The most intense protests have been recorded in the capital, Khartoum, where protesters have erected barricades and set fire to tires, challenging the police and the army, which has reacted only on sporadic occasions, causing three deaths and a hundred injured.
The international community appears united in condemning the actions of the Sudanese military. The International Monetary Fund has suspended financial aid and the process of reducing foreign debt, while the African Union has suspended Sudan. The UN has also condemned the coup d’état and on October 29 the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the immediate restoration of a transitional government headed by civilian authorities, while expressing deep concern about the action of the military to the detriment of the transition process. The resolution was also signed by Russia and China, although Russia in particular insisted that the resolution be less harsh than the Western demands, and above all not contain the terms “condemnation” and “coup d’état”.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also urged the Sudanese military to show restraint with the protesters pouring into the streets of Khartoum and above all not to cause casualties. In spite of the text adopted by the Security Council, Secretary General Guterres openly mentioned his condemnation of the coup and called for the immediate restoration of the civilian-led transitional government.
International pressure on Sudan’s military authorities seems to have had some effect. The former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has in fact been able to meet – although under house arrest – the ambassadors of the United States, Great Britain and Norway, suggesting the possibility of a restoration of civilian government.
The following day, November 4, the spokesman of the armed forces, Taher Abouhaga, confirmed that the appointment of a civilian government would be imminent, thus demonstrating how the protests of Sudanese society and the firm condemnation of the international community – together with the suspension of all financial support – have had a concrete effect in convincing the military authorities of the need for a compromise.
No indication has been given as to the possible shape of the new government or its components, nor is it clear what role the military intends to assume in the formation of a new executive. As things stand, it seems unlikely that former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok will be reinstated in office, leading to the hypothesis of a technical government, free of politics and parties.
On the other hand, the protest by representatives of the Beja Congress in Port Sudan has ended, with the removal of roadblocks and the resumption of transit of vehicles carrying goods to the capital. Many suspect that the protests and the inconveniences caused by the protests have been covertly organized by the military, in order to determine the conditions of instability under which the coup d’état of last October 25 was promoted.