4The question of Military Control in Sudan
For the entire history of Sudan, whomever has had control of the military, has had control of the nation. This has led to numerous conflicts such as the First Sudanese Civil War (1955–1972), the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005), the secession of South Sudan on 9 July 2011, and the War in Darfur (2003–2010)
After a military coup on 30 June 1989, when Omar al-Bashir, then a member of the Sudanese Army, led a group of officers and ousted the government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. Under al-Bashir’s leadership, the new military government came into power, suspended political parties and introduced an Islamic legal code.
On 11 April 2019, the Sudanese Armed forces (SAF) ousted the President – Omar al-Bashir from office (alongside his cabinet and legislature) after 3 decades of leadership, due to the past year of civilian protests. The presidency then switched to rule by Vice-President – Lt. Gen. Ahmed Awad Ibn then after more protests, rule by Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan.
Despite this, many Sudanese activists continued their protests and denounced the Transitional Military Council (TMC) as a government stating they were “the same faces and entities that our great people have revolted against”. These protests then continued with ‘sit-ins’, demonstrations and other types of protests being continually dispersed by the military.
On 17 July 2019, a written form of an agreement was signed by the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC). The TMC and FFC then announced that they would share power to run Sudan via executive and legislative institutions with Article 10.(a) of the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration of the 2019 Sudanese transition to democracy stating that the mixed civilian–military “Sovereignty Council is the head of state, the symbol of its sovereignty and unity, and the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, Rapid Support Forces, and other uniformed forces.”
Currently, Sudan stands at a political crossroads. Where the country goes from here
largely depends on a combination of internal and external elements. Internally the behaviour of the army and security services will be crucial. Also, too will be the question of authenticity of leadership within the protest movement.
- United Nations: The United Nations released a statement urging the new government not to use violence against peaceful protestors.
- African Union: The African Union condemned the coup.
- European Union: The EU stated that it is monitoring the situation in Sudan and calls on all parties to refrain from violence and find a way to ensure a peaceful transition.
Questions for Debate
- What is your country’s stance on military control in Sudan (i.e., do they support it, or do they use a similar system)?
- How can the military control in Sudan be regulated by the UN, and what penalty can be imposed on those found breaching rights?
- Should the UN be getting involved in these ongoing conflicts between the military and the people?
- Should the military have this much control in any nation?