TRI Talk- Understanding Sudan’s Turbulent Politics: the 2018 Revolution and the Transition from a Military-led government to Civilian Democracy
On October 25, 2021, the Sudan witnessed a military coup that threatens to reverse the country’s path towards a transition to democracy which first began in the aftermath of Sudan’s revolution of December 2018. In that year, following three decades of authoritarian rule, popular protests in Sudan successfully toppled former President Omar Bashir from power. The intifada (popular uprising) was a culmination of over six months of sustained protests that included Sudanese across the social and regional divide. This lecture will examine the underlying causes and consequences of the popular uprising of 2018 and 2019, the key factors that led up to the recent military coup, and the prospects for the resumption of a transition to a civilian democracy in the context of the ongoing wide-scale pro-democracy protests throughout the country. In addressing the obstacles as well as the prospects of a return to civilian rule, the lecture will evaluate the relative strength of the current regime’s capacity for coercion vis-à-vis what is a resurgent civil society opposition, the state of Sudan’s political economy and fiscal health, the level of international support, and the degree to which the state security sector is entrenched in Sudanese civil society. The lecture will conclude whether Sudan will witness a return to a consolidated authoritarian regime or re-embark on a democratic transition by focusing on the levels (and nature) of popular mobilization, civil society cohesion, political party autonomy and legitimacy, the capacity of the coercive apparatus of the current military regime in the aftermath of the coup led by General Abdel-Fatih Burhan, and the crucially important, albeit often neglected, question having to do with the nature of transnational economic and strategic linkages between Sudan and countries in the region.