What's happening in Sudan: Six things to know about the unrest | News - 6 بلاگ

What’s happening in Sudan: Six things to know about the unrest | News

Weeks after the removal of Omar al-Bashir as the president of Sudan, the fight for civilian rule continues as the Transitional Military Council (TMC) refuses to give in to the protesters’ demand to hand over power.

The TMC, led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, says it will oversee a transitional period that will last a maximum of two years.

Amid continuing protests, security forces are doing everything possible to end a sit-in protest in the capital, Khartoum.

Here are six things to know about the unrest:

Why did the protests begin?

A wave of demonstrations began across much of Sudan on December 19 over soaring bread prices, a result of a deep economic crisis that started when the southern part of the country seceded after a referendum in 2011, taking oil wealth with it.

The protests started in Atbara, a city in northeastern Sudan known as a stronghold for anti-government activity.

Several thousand people took to the streets after the government tried to end the bread shortages.






Gunfire as Sudan military moves in to clear Khartoum sit-in

As a result of the measures, the price of some bread tripled and although there had been bread queues for months, people were angry about the price rise.

The authorities quickly changed the policy and scrambled to crush the protests, declaring a state of emergency in Atbara and imposing a curfew from 6:00pm to 6:00am.

But they had already spread to the Red Sea city of Port Sudan and to al-Qadarif in the south east, before reaching the capital Khartoum.

Protesters were also angered by cash shortages due to restrictions on withdrawals aimed at keeping money in the banks, which themselves are struggling to find cash.

But what started as a protest about living conditions turned into one about the government of Bashir.

How did the protests evolve?

The demonstrations quickly morphed into growing anti-government rallies demanding Bashir’s resignation.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), an umbrella coalition for professional unions, lead calls for marches towards the presidential palace, demanding that Bashir step down immediately.

Trade unions and professional associations also called for nationwide strikes that saw the participation of a large number of doctors, journalists, lawyers and pharmacists from across Sudan.

Political parties then joined in, and influential sections within the military refused to take part in the repression, forcing the government to eventually cede power.

Protesters adopted slogans used during the Arab Spring of 2011 and gathered outside the headquarters of the military in the capital and refused to move.

The protests reached a climax on the symbolic date of 6 April – the anniversary of a 1985 non-violent uprising that removed Jaafar Nimeiri.

Who are the protesters?

Sudanese from all walks of life have taken part in the demonstrations but the main organisers have been the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella coalition several professional unions that bring together doctors, lawyers and journalists.

There has been a high percentage of women among the protesters, with the image of Alaa Salah, a 22-year-old woman clad in white and standing on top of a car in April, becoming a symbol of demonstrations.

How did Bashir respond?

The Sudanese government responded by promising to carry out economic reforms to “ensure a decent living for citizens”.

Bashir, who was at the helm since 1989, refused to step down however, while security forces continued to crack down on activists and protesters.






Sudan unrest: Shots fired at protesters, two dead

As protesters continued their demonstrations across Sudanese cities, Bashir announced a one-year state of emergency on February 22.

The presidential decree banned protests, public gatherings and political activities. It also gave the police and security forces more power to monitor individuals and to carry out inspections. 

Under the emergency laws, security forces were allowed to detain suspected individuals and seize private property if they believe it is being used to plan political activities.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese forces have been accused of a rising death toll, as growing numbers of protesters were arrested and held in detention.

In early April, the interior ministry said 39 people, including three security forces personnel, had died since protests began last year. A spokeswoman for SPA put the death toll at nearly 70.

Special emergency courts established to prosecute people arrested for participating in demonstrations, saw hundreds of protesters placed on trial after Bashir’s imposed state of emergency. 

What’s role has the military played?

Bashir was removed by the military on April 11 after ruling the country for three decades.

In the immediate aftermath of the announcement that Bashir had been replaced by a military council demonstrators called on people to maintain the sit-ins.

A military council led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan came to power a few days after Bashir was overthrown. Burhan promised to oversee a transitional period that will last a maximum of two years.

Demonstrators, however, accused the coup leaders of being close to Bashir and implicated in the problems that people were demonstrating about.

They continued to demand that the country’s military ruler immediately hand over power to a civilian-led government.

What is Sudan’s revolutionary history?

Sudan has witnessed two previous revolutions since its independence in 1953.

The popular uprisings of 1964 and 1985 saw the participations of students, trade unions and professional organisations.

After political parties joined the protests and influential sections within the military refused to take part in the repression, the regime stepped down and peaceful transition followed.

Unlike the current unrest, both revolutionary movements were led by mostly urban, professional elites.






Is Sudan’s military prepared to give up power?

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