Analysts argue that Sudan’s future depends upon how its ruling military council will plan the country’s transition to a civilian government. Otherwise, Sudan could be another Libya or Egypt.

Protesters shout slogans and make victory signs after Friday prayers in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan on April 19, 2019.
Protesters shout slogans and make victory signs after Friday prayers in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan on April 19, 2019. (Umit Bektas / Reuters)

Sudan's political uncertainty has deepened with the military overthrow of former president Omar Bashir, as analysts forecast a mere transfer of power from one military ruler to another in the coming days.

"I do not think that there could be a change in the existing status quo in Sudan,” said Murat Yigit, a researcher in African studies at the Istanbul Commerce University. 

Hit by an intense economic recession, the Sudanese people refuse to call off five month-long countrywide protests, seeking a democratically-elected civilian government. 

But it's an uphill task to establish democracy in Sudan, where military rule has become the norm since its independence in 1956. 

Yigit finds similarities between what happens in Sudan and several other African countries, where governments are dominated by a mix of military and civilian leaders. 

The military’s dominance, Yigit added, is rooted in the fact that “much of African politics lacks ability to institutionalise”. 

“Even the leaders, who came to power through democratic process, have become authoritarian in time,” Yigit said.  

In Sudan, therefore, it remains to be seen whether the military leaders truly respect democratic traditions and guide the country to a democratic path, Yigit told TRT World. 

Protesters shout slogans by a banner depicting former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan, April 19, 2019.
Protesters shout slogans by a banner depicting former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan, April 19, 2019. (Umit Bektas / Reuters)

But the current leadership, which is led by the country’s military commander, General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, an ally of the Gulf’s autocratic rulers, does not give much hope for a democratic transition, according to experts. 

“There is news coming from Sudan saying that [Mohammed Yusuf] Dahlan and other figures from UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia visit the country [meeting the military council’s leaders],” said Mayada Kamal Eldeen, a Turkey-based Sudanese researcher and a member of African Coordination and Education Center in Istanbul. 

Dahlan is a notorious Palestinian political operator, whose name has surfaced in many conspiracies across the Middle East in the name of the Saudi and UAE-led Gulf. 

“If Sudan acts in accordance with them [Saudis and their allies], it will take a route to be the next Libya or Egypt. Then, it will become a country which will damage itself and its surrounding neighbours,” Eldeen told TRT World. 

In Libya, following the Arab Spring protests in 2011, the country’s longstanding military dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, was toppled and killed after he tried to suppress protests in a bloody crackdown. But since then, Libya has been in a civil war, with  rival governments in Tripoli and Tobruk. 

Libyan women shout slogans during a demonstration to demand an end to the Khalifa Haftar's offensive against Tripoli, at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, Libya on April 17, 2019.
Libyan women shout slogans during a demonstration to demand an end to the Khalifa Haftar's offensive against Tripoli, at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, Libya on April 17, 2019. (Hani Amara / Reuters)

In Egypt, the country’s military ruler, Hosni Mubarak, was also toppled by popular protests during the Arab Spring. However, the country’s first democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government was also ousted by a military coup led by Abdel Fattah al Sisi, who now leads the country as its president. 

Since then, both countries have been suffering from economic hardships and political instability. 

Sudan's military leadership is using both examples as a reference to pacify Sudan’s passionate protesters. 

Yigit agrees with Eldeen saying that Sudan is a foreign-guided state, a factor, which also angers most of the protesters. “Saudi-led bloc supports authoritarian regimes [across the Middle East and North Africa], including Sudan’s authoritarian status,” Yigit observed. 

What’s next?

“Everyone was right when they were protesting the country’s economic hardships first and people have resembled the protests to the Arab Spring,” Eldeen said. 

More than anything else, the Sudanese are fed up by the fact that the price of bread can triple in a country which has the potential to be the breadbasket of the Arab world, according to many experts.

A man paints the Sudanese flag to a protester's face during a demonstration in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan on April 19, 2019.
A man paints the Sudanese flag to a protester's face during a demonstration in front of the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan on April 19, 2019. (Umit Bektas / Reuters)

Other commodity prices skyrocketed too, while the Sudanese central bank recently devalued the pound, pushing inflation to 70 percent.

But Eldeed believes that now everyone also needs to focus on how a civilian government could be formed soon for the sake of the country’s future and integrity. 

“Whether Bashir is house-arrested or jailed does not matter at the moment. It also does not matter much how Saudi Arabia and UAE will play a political role in Sudan. What really matters is what the military council will do after this point in the face of continuing protests,” Eldeed viewed. “How they will lead matters most.” 

Yigit thinks that protests will definitely continue because of the economic recession. But it’s not an easy and quick task to address the country’s long overdue economic problems, he says. 

“The military might open the road for elections,” Yigit predicted.

Source: TRT World