Burhan Defiant as Violent Clashes Continue in Sudan
The Sudanese won’t let their prospects for democracy go without a fight.
Following the country’s coup d’etat on Monday, the military government of Sudan under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has attempted to consolidate its control over the country. Sudanese troops have occupied key positions in Khartoum, and the internet in the country’s capital had reportedly been cut off on Monday morning following the putsch.
Even so, Sudan’s population, from pro-democracy activists and working professionals to employees of the country’s state-run oil firm, has taken to the streets to protest against the overthrow of the civilian government. The military has attempted to curtail the protests, leading to further violence; Al Jazeera reported that another protester had been killed on Thursday, marking at least eight since the protests began.
The international community has uniformly condemned the coup. Several developed nations, including the United States and Germany, suspended aid to the country until the civilian government was restored, as did the World Bank. The UN and the Arab League condemned the coup, calling on Burhan to step down and restore the country’s civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, to office. The African Union suspended the country from its ranks until Hamdok is restored to power. Sudan is the third government it has suspended for a coup this year, following putsches in Mali in May and Guinea in September.
President Joe Biden indicated on Thursday that the United States supported the street protests. “Our message to Sudan’s military authorities is overwhelming and clear: the Sudanese people must be allowed to protest peacefully and the civilian-led transitional government must be restored,” a White House statement read.
For his part, Burhan has claimed that the military intervention was necessary to prevent the country from falling into chaos. He asserted that he would continue to implement Sudan’s democratic transition independent of its pre-coup Sovereignty Council, which he dissolved. Burhan also announced that he had freed Hamdok from captivity following his arrest on Monday morning. The former prime minister is now at his home, although he remains under effective house arrest.
Sudan’s political situation has remained precarious since the overthrow of dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Bashir, who had ruled the country since his own military coup in 1989, was removed by the military, led by Burhan, after months of civilian protests. Because both the military and civilian protesters had played a role in his ouster, the transitional government that succeeded him included leaders from both the military and the protest movement, causing prolonged unrest prior to the coup.
Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.