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Why is Sudan still mired in political chaos? | Euronews answers

Why is Sudan still mired in political chaos? | Euronews answers
Copyright REUTERS/Stringer
Copyright REUTERS/Stringer
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros with Reuters
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Efforts to bring democracy to Sudan suffered a major blow this week after a military raid in a pro-democracy camp in Khartoum.


Despite President Omar al-Bashir's removal from power in April, efforts to create a democracy suffered a major blow this week after the military stormed a pro-democracy protest camp.

What happened after Bashir’s fall?

After the fall of Bashir — who had ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years — the country's military announced a transition period of up to two years, followed by elections.

A Transitional Military Council (TMC) led by the defence minister and vice-president Awad Ibn Auf took control of the government, increasing the anger of protesters because of his ties to Bashir.

However, Auf didn’t last long in the post and stepped down only 24 hours later. Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, also a key target of the protesters, resigned as the head of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) the following day.

Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan replaced Auf as head of the military council. Prior to the promotion, he oversaw Sudanese troops fighting in the Yemen war and had close ties to senior Gulf military officials.

Burhan's deputy is Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti. He heads Sudan's Rapid Support Forces (RSF) — a paramilitary group that emerged from the Janjaweed militias that fought in Darfur.

Who supports this new leadership?

The United Arab Emirates welcomed Burhan’s appointment and said it would get aid to Sudan quickly. Saudi Arabia also said it would send wheat, fuel, and medicine to Sudan.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also offered to help Sudan’s stability.

When will there be a civilian government?

Burhan promised a civilian government after meetings with the opposition and announced the release of political detainees. But the military council ignored the protester’s demands for civilian presence in the ruling council and for Bashir’s entourage to be held to account.

So why do protests continue?

Protesters are angry because the military council haven’t given them a say into who will lead the country into a democracy. The opposition and the military council had been holding talks for weeks but they collapsed after members of the military stormed a protest camp on Monday.

The opposition said 113 people were killed in the violent raids but the government put the toll at 61 people, including three security personnel.

Some Reuters' witnesses said it was RSF who led the crackdown on the protest camp.

The military denied wanting to clear out the pro-democracy camp. Its spokesman said forces had been trying to deal with disruptive groups that had penetrated the camp and that the violence got out of hand.

The main protest organisers, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), accused the TMC of carrying out "a massacre" as it stormed the camp, a charge denied by the council.

Civilian disobedience

A civil disobedience campaign demanding civilian rule was started on Sunday — the beginning of the working week in Sudan.


Protest leaders asked people to stay at home after the bloody crackdown that left at least dozens killed.

On Sunday morning, few pedestrians could be seen on the streets and public transport was barely functioning, reported Reuters. Most commercial banks, private companies, and markets were closed.

Some public banks and offices were open as normal.

In the north of Khartoum, Sudan's capital. police fired tear gas at protesters to try and scatter them. No casualties were reported.


Violence against medical staff

According to a doctors' group with links to the protest movement. hospitals were overcrowded with people injured in the violence. Five main hospitals had been shut down by the paramilitary RSF, it added.

"There is a great shortage in medical staff, mainly caused by the militias targeting doctors and preventing them from reaching hospitals and clinics to perform their duty," it said. "For all these reasons, more and more lives are being lost every day."

The United Nations’ World Health Organisation said in a statement that some staff and patients had been injured in raids into hospitals.

Mobile tent clinics that had been set up to treat injured protesters had been set on fire and destroyed while medical equipment had been looted. Some women had reportedly been raped, it said.


It added that emergency services were being shut down.

"These actions represent a total and unacceptable violation of international human rights law and must stop," said Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.

The WHO did not say who had entered the hospitals or attacked the staff, but Amnesty International and the opposition said the RSF were the main participants in the violence.

Sudan has been rocked by protests since December when anger over the rising price of bread culminated with the army removing Bashir for good.


Has anything come out of the violence?

Following the bloody episode, Sudan's military offered to resume talks with opposition groups on Wednesday after the raids increased international pressure for a transition of power. However, the opposition rejected the offer, saying the military could not be trusted.


On Thursday, the African Union suspended Sudan until civilian rule was established. The United Nations and several other governments also condemned the storming of the camp.

Ethiopia's prime minister Abiy Ahmed flew over to Sudan on Friday to try to ease internal tensions.

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