The military coup a major setback for Sudan’s democracy ambitions

October 28, 2021 4:12 PM

It is more than two years since the overthrow of the government of President Omar al-Bashir in a massive popular revolution and Sudan has not picked fruits of democracy yet, instead the country has been flung into a political tension, which threatens smooth transition to democracy.

Organizations such as the African Union, EU and the UN have called for immediate restoration of civilian government or face isolation. (Credit: Associated Press)

By Mahmoud Addanou

The military coup that took place in Sudan last week is not new and not a surprise. The east African country 65 years old since its independence in 1956, Sudan witnessed nine presidents/prime ministers rule. Only three of them are elected democratically but this coup is the most threatening to the efforts that have been made during two years to break this evil circle — a short term civilian government followed by a military regime.

It is more than two years since the overthrow of the government of President Omar al-Bashir in a massive popular revolution and Sudan has not picked fruits of democracy yet, instead the country has been flung into a political tension, which threatens smooth transition to democracy.

The recent military coup not only undermines the fragile democratic transition process in the country and a major setback for Sudan’s democracy ambitions but can deepen its economic crisis. This is because Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok was leading the discussions with donors, international financial institutions and Sudan’s major creditors on debt relief that culminated in the country reaching the decision point of the HIPC debt relief initiative in June 2021. Upon successful completion of economic reforms after another three years, Sudan is supposed to reach the HIPC completion point, which would further reduce external debt to $6 billion. This is now at risk. The US has already threatened that the coup could have consequences for debt relief.

After the coup the World Bank said it had paused the disbursement of all funds to the country and urged for the democratic transition process to be restored, the move followed the United States putting on hold more than $700 million in emergency aid for the country.

After a failed military coup last month, deep tensions between the military and civilian administration erupted but still there’s room for dialogue and peaceful settlement between the two camps. Even after Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok described the situation as the country’s “worst and most dangerous” political crisis in its two-year transition.

The hope for smooth transition to democracy vanished when Sudanese people woke up on Oct. 25 with the ugly reality that General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, commander-in-chief of the Sudanese armed forces, announced the dissolution of the transitional government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. He also announced the dissolution of the Sovereignty Council, where military and civilian officials have shared power since its establishment in 2019 to oversee the transitional phase in Sudan.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan claimed at a press conference held on the second day of the coup that the previous government, led by Sudanese economist and UN official Abdalla Hamdok, was unstable and threatened to plunge the country into civil war by inciting demonstrations against the military the previous week. Burhan argued that the military’s actions did not amount to a coup, and claimed that he did not intend to keep power, but had taken control of the country to restore stability

The military coup cut the path to democracy by dissolution of the civilian-military coalition figures that ran the transition to democracy and change it with military and pro-military figures that historically they have not ruled in a democratic civil war, the Sudanese people are well aware of this and that is why they are firmly resisting this coup

One of the riskiest consequences to this military adventure is that Sudan will face global isolation again. Organizations such as the African Union, EU and the UN have called for immediate restoration of civilian government or face isolation.

(The author is a Sudanese journalist/political analyst based in Kathmandu. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited).

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