Safeguarding Sudan’s Revolution

Sudan has swung between hope and despair since 11 April, when the most sustained civilian protest movement in the country’s modern history swept Omar al-Bashir from power. Many Sudanese celebrated Bashir’s ouster, seeing him as responsible for economic ruin and severe rights abuses. But the generals who sought to placate the demonstrators by deposing Bashir have shown reluctance to cede power. The security forces’ brutal 3 June attack on protesters in Khartoum repulsed the world and galvanised support for mediation that yielded a power-sharing agreement on 17 August. Still, more outside support is needed to keep the transition on track. The African Union (AU) should appoint an envoy to help bridge the gap of mistrust between parties. For their part, Western powers should signal willingness to open the taps of badly needed financial support, encourage Khartoum to make peace with rebel factions on Sudan’s periphery, and sustain pressure on the generals’ Gulf allies to ensure that all sides abide by the deal Sudan needs to move ahead after Bashir’s rule. This report describes Bashir’s fall from power, the power-sharing deal’s emergence and the challenges that Sudan’s transitional leadership will face. It argues that the deal offers the best – and only viable – framework for addressing these challenges, steering the country toward reform, and avoiding the very real possibility that the country is instead pulled toward spiralling violence. It is based on interviews conducted since January in Khartoum, Addis Ababa, Abu Dhabi, Washington, Brussels, London, Nairobi, New York and Juba. It also builds on Crisis Group’s past work on Sudan’s long-term crisis.