It all started in December, 2018 when Sudanese took a strong stand against the authoritarian rule of President Omar al-Bashir. This saw to the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in a coup by Sudanese military.
Protest broke out all over the country in December following shortage of cash and high bread prices as government eliminate subsidies. Protest started in Atbara, a city in north-eastern Sudan before spreading to Port Sudan, then Gadarif and finally to the capital city, Khartoum.
The protest which initially focused on the high price of bread gradually morphed into demand for the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir who has ruled the country for nearly three decades. The protests dragged on till April, when the president was removed from office in a coup by Sudanese government. This ended Omar al-Bashir’s decades of rule.
The protest was organised by Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a coalition of professional unions. The organisation led the march demanding al-Bashir stepped-down. Trade unions and professional associations also joined the protest by calling for nationwide strikes; this saw the participation of a large number of doctors, journalists, lawyers and pharmacists all over Sudan.
Protesters adopted slogans used during the Arab Spring of 2011 and they gathered outside the headquarters of the military in the capital and refused to move. The protests reached a climax on the symbolic date of 6 April, marking the anniversary of 1985 non-violent uprising that removed Jaafar Nimeiri.
Following the removal of al-Bashir from office, he was replaced by Transitional Military Council. This replacement did not subside the demonstration rather it made it stronger, as demonstrators called on people to continue the sit-ins. The military council which was led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan came to power a few days after al-Bashir was overthrown.
Al-Burhan promised to oversee a transitional period that will last a maximum of two years. Demonstrators, however, accused the coup leaders of being close to al-Bashir and said they were also involved in the problems that led to the demonstrations in the first place.
Demonstrators continued to sit-in while demanding for handover of power from the military to a civilian-led government. There has been report that Rapid Support Forces led a raid on the sit-in in Khartoum on June 3, which led to the collapse of talks between the transitional military council and opposition groups pushing for a democratic transition. There was also reports that demonstrators were being killed, raped or otherwise injured.
Jason Patinkin, a Chicago-based journalist who was in the capital city of Khartoum to cover the uprising reported that following the raid “The scene was different. There was fear, people were staying inside. People were really terrified of what the military might do to them.”
There were also concern about the country’s internet services that was disconnected. The military gave excuse that it was necessary for national security but many believed this was done to give the military cover to perpetuate violence while regulating the flow of information.
There have been social media campaigns with the adoption of the Blue Profile Picture in honour of Mohamed Hashim Mattar, a 26-year-old engineer and graduate of London’s Brunel University, who was killed in the crackdown on June 3. This has helped spread awareness of the ongoing violence in Sudan. On the international level, many African and western countries have backed the protesters in their claim for a civilian led government.
The African Union (AU) has suspended Sudan from its membership until a civilian led transitional authority is established. The UN is removing all non-essential staff from Sudan but China and Russia have blocked moves to impose sanctions.
The US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, condemned the Khartoum violence, calling it “abhorrent”. BBC Africa editor Fergal Keane stated this can only be impactful if the US demands that Sudan’s regional allies – Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – exert pressure on the Sudanese military.