Sudan. Sudan underwent a political earthquake in 2019. Popular protests against increased prices of bread and fuel that shook the country at the end of 2018 continued unabated at the beginning of the year. The security forces failed to quell the protests and were accused of being overwhelmed when, among other things, hospitals were attacked. At the end of January, human rights groups stated that at least 40 people had been killed, while 2,000 were arrested. President Omar al-Bashir announced a state of emergency on February 22, dissolved the government and replaced provincial governors with army commanders. He resigned on 28 February as leader of the National Congress Party (NCP). Despite the demonstration ban, the protests continued with demands that al-Bashir resign. A large sitting strike outside the Army headquarters was held in early April.
On April 11, the army announced that al-Bashir, who had led the country since he took power in 1989, was deposed. A military council would rule for two years until elections are held. al-Bashir, 75, was arrested. On the following day, Defense Minister Awad Ibn Ouf resigned. The leader of the junta was General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG: Click to see the meanings of 3-letter acronym and abbreviation of SD in general and in geography as Sudan in particular.
At a April house search at al-Bashir, cash worth tens of millions of dollars was seized. He was indicted in June for corruption and sentenced in December against his refusal to serve two years in prison at a special facility. Property and cars were seized. Juntan declined to be extradited to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which in 2009 indicted him for genocide in Darfur province.
A power-sharing agreement was signed on August 17 and al-Burhan was sworn in as leader of the governing council to replace the junta. The Council includes five generals and six civilians. The parties agreed in July on a three-year transition period: A general leads for the first 21 months, after which a civilian leader reigns for 18 months. The settlement was preceded by continued popular protests and clear contradictions between the protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change and the junta. Several violent clashes occurred. At least 128 people were killed on June 3 when security forces and militia attacked a protest camp in the capital. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the African Union mediated.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who previously worked for the UN, heads the transitional government. Asma Mohamed Abdalla became the country’s first female foreign minister.
Hamdok stressed that military spending must be reduced and that Sudan should be removed from a list of countries that the United States believes are devoted to state-sponsored terrorism. This is required for Sudan to be able to raise international loans, even though Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provided loans. The economy is in serious crisis. The International Monetary Fund estimated that GDP shrank by 2.6% in 2019 while inflation was 50%.
In November, the Governing Council banned al-Bashir’s party NCP and seized its assets. The Council also abolished a notorious law against “immoral” behavior. It had been used to punish women for “crimes” such as dressing in pants and limiting their opportunities to participate in social life. Women, who formed an important group in the protest movement, welcomed the decision. The transitional government and rebel groups in the provinces of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kurdufan started peace talks in October in neighboring South Sudan.
UN appeals for aid to refugees in eastern Sudan
Sudan needs $ 150 million over the next six months to provide clean water, care and shelter for newly arrived refugees from northern Ethiopia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Sudan’s own resources are small, two out of three residents live in poverty.
Refugee wave from Ethiopia
Sudan is hit by a new wave of refugees as tens of thousands of people flee fighting in Tigray in northern Ethiopia to eastern Sudan where a large refugee camp is being built. The influx of refugees began shortly after a military offensive was launched in Tigray on 4 November. Sudan, which is struggling with a crisis economy, the corona pandemic and a fragile process towards peace and democracy, is appealing for support from the outside world to cope with the situation.
Opposition leader al-Mahdi dies in covid-19
Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the moderate Islamist Umma party, died in covid-19 at the age of 84. Al-Mahdi was the prime minister of the popular government that was ousted in Omar al-Bashir’s military coup in 1989. Al-Mahdi was thus the country’s most recently elected leader and perhaps the most important opposition leader during al-Bashir’s nearly 30 years in power. He actively participated in the mass protests that in 2019 forced al-Bashir out of power. Sudan currently has nearly 17,000 confirmed cases of corona-infected people and just over 1,200 covid-19 deaths.
The UN and the AU want to phase out the mission in Darfur
The AU and the UN recommend the UN Security Council to end the joint peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Unamid, starting on 31 December 2020. The reason is the positive development that the regime change in Sudan has had on the situation in Darfur, where security for the civilian population is said to have increased. It is estimated that it will take about six months to bring home Unamid, which consists of about 8,000 soldiers. At most, the mission was twice as large.
Mass amnesty for rebels
With immediate effect, Sudan’s transitional leadership is granting amnesty (impunity) to some 50,000 rebels who fought against the old Bashir regime in conflict hotspots such as Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Exceptions are made for those suspected of war crimes or genocide, or are wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). There are around 15,000 rebels in the country who belong to groups that have not yet signed the peace agreement (see October 2020).
According to CountryAAH, the population of Sudan in 2019 was 42,813,127, ranking number 35 in the world. The population growth rate was 2.420% yearly, and the population density was 0.0000 people per km2.