Sudan: from a precarious political balance to a coup

Thousands of Sudanese took to the streets of Khartoum on Monday, October 25, 2021 to protest against the army's coup.

AFP - -

Text by: LĂ©onard Vincent Follow

3 min

In Sudan, the army's coup against civilians, with whom it had shared power since the 2019 revolution, took place in an increasingly tense political climate.

For weeks, the military had demanded a dissolution of the government, when the civilian component of power refused it completely, putting an end to more than two years of maneuvers and compromises.


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In April 2019, the Sudanese revolutionaries reluctantly had to join forces with the generals of their main enemy, Omar al-Bashir.

Because if it was civilians who had made the fall of the latter inevitable, thanks to the street, it was the soldiers who had arrested the then head of state and obtained his resignation.

This compromise was both the point of balance and the weak point of their temporary power-sharing agreement, which was hard-won by mediation by the African Union, supported by the international community.

A point of balance and a weak point

It was a point of balance because each side had demonstrated its respective strength, a strength to be reckoned with in order to govern. Since the fall of al-Bashir, the Sudanese army, in addition to its economic power, has continued to play a significant role: it has been at work in the low-intensity conflict with Ethiopia, in the el-Fashqa triangle, but also in maintaining order in Darfur, in the regional balance of power around

the controversial Great Ethiopian Renaissance dam

, as well as in normalization with Israel and the United States.

For their part, the forces resulting from the revolution have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to unite, despite the divisions, and to mobilize the large number to support the recovery of Sudan by a solely civilian government.

But it was also a weak point because any attempt to limit the powers of one of the components of the transition would mathematically unbalance the whole.


However, on the one hand, the work of the commission to fight and dismantle the remains of the old regime - moreover dissolved as of Monday's coup - have often encroached on the interests of the military, in particular the Forces of rapid support led by

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo known as "Hemeti"

. And the announcement of the desire to regain control by the civilian authority of the military high command and intelligence, the integration of former rebellions into the constituted bodies, as well as the announcement of the merger of the Rapid Support Forces in the regular army, met with resolute opposition from some high-ranking officers.

And on the other hand, the stranglehold of the army or the paramilitaries over entire sections of the economy, the right of scrutiny that they granted themselves over political and economic reforms, their interference in the fragile balances of the scene. policy have further undermined confidence.

The trigger for the break-up

It is therefore this imbalance that has precipitated the situation in recent months, especially since

the failed coup of September 21,

the circumstances of which are not yet completely clear.

All that was missing was the trigger for the break between the transition partners.

The crisis in the east of the country, the shortages, the unpopular economic reforms imposed by the IMF, the state reforms never implemented, the political disputes, the very complex peace agreements signed in Juba, the divisions within civilian forces as well - the Islamists of Djibril Ibrahim's JEM and the forces of Minni Minawi had recently broken with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok - have precipitated the situation, it seems.

Civilians accused the military of " 


 " their work.

And the military demanded the formation of a government of

 politically neutral



", that is to say, rid of their adversaries.


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  • Sudan

  • Abdallah Hamdok

  • Human rights

  • Omar al-Bashir

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