Sudan's Political Crisis and the Uncharted Course

The Sudan is the third largest country in Africa after Algeria and the Democratic Republic Congo measuring a little over 1.8 million km². The large parts of the landmass of the country are dominated by deserts in the north, semi desert in the west and arid mountains along the Red Sea coast and in its eastern frontiers. Compared to its land size, the population size of the Sudan, however, is relatively small. It is ranked the tenth in Africa standing at 45 million as of 2021.2 A great majority of the people of the Sudan profess in Islam. The Sudan gained independence from the Anglo-Egyptian condominium in 1956. After a brief exercise of politics in a civil way for about two years, in 1958 the country experienced the first coup détat which brought General Ibrahim Abboud to power. Ever since, the Sudan witnessed 15 coups détat, both successful and unsuccessful. These include coups against civilian rule such as in 1958 and 1989 and coups against military dictatorships as in 1964 and 2019, just to mention a couple of them. The incidences in coups are more than any other country in the continent, making it, as some call it, “a laboratory for students of coups”. The most recent is what transpired in October 2021 as General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of the Sudanese Governing Sovereign Council, announced that he had ousted the civilian government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. This put the fragile transitional process in limbo and triggered a political crisis with multiple dimensions. Though the civilian government was restored few weeks later, its impact in terms of conditioning the process of the transition continues to be felt. Against this backdrop, this note attempts to shed light on the background to the onset of the transition in 2019, explain the salient features of the transitional arrangement and process and appraise the implications of the coup.