No Negotiation, No Partnership, No Compromise – The Coup in Sudan

No Negotiation, No Partnership, No Compromise - The Coup in Sudan

Ria Mehrotra, Contributor

The most recent coup in Sudan, in which the military took control, has sparked a discussion about the barriers to democracy of an unstable government. 

The coup was apparently initiated in an effort to halt a power-sharing agreement between the military and civilians after the overthrow of President Omar-al-Bashir in 2019. This agreement was guided by the Sovereign Council, which was negotiated to enforce Sudan’s transition towards being a democratic government. One of the goals of their plan was to host democratic elections in late 2023. 

Albeit unsurprising, as Sudan has experienced many coups, this development differed from previous coups as military chief Abdul Fattah-al-Burhan, leader of the coup, has claimed that his seizure of power is aimed to create more political stability and move towards the 2023 elections. However, the actions of his followers, along with his own, contradict that. For example, Abdalla Hamdok, prime minister of Sudan, was detained and put on house arrest after refusing to voice his support of the takeover. Furthermore, five banks have been dissolved and replaced, and boards of state companies have been dissolved. By grabbing hold of banks and terminating democratic institutions, Fattah-al-Burhan is seizing more power than is typical in a democratic government. Finally, the Sovereign Council, which again was spearheading the democratic transition has been discontinued. 

This coup has faced much opposition from civilians, governments, and international organizations. The main group pushing back against the coup are the Forces of Freedom and Change, which advocated for Bashir’s removal and negotiated for the emergence of the Sovereign Council, and two major political parties: Umma and Sudanese Congress. The UN, Arab League, and African Union have also expressed their concern about these developments.

Many Western countries, including the United States, have condemned the actions of the Sudanese military. According to writer Khalid Abdelaziz of Reuters, the United States has paused $700 million in economic support, a sum of money that could greatly help Sudan, which is in an economic crisis. Western powers refuse to provide support until the country returns on a path towards democracy. 

According to the Guardian, “Activists demanding the military exit politics have announced a schedule of protests leading up to mass rallies on 13 November under the slogan: ‘No negotiation, no partnership, no compromise.’” Demonstrations of civil disobedience have begun and one predominant group of these protestors are teachers, who are on strike. Almost 100 of these teachers were arrested and even more were beaten by police officers tasked with dispersing the protests. Furthermore, the Guardian states that around 80% of the bankers who have lost their jobs due to the coup went on strike. Some hospitals were even on strike during these events. 

A vital component of these protests is that they have been limited due to internet cuts. Since the coup on Oct. 25, the internet has been disrupted and phone coverage has been patchy, which has likely led to smaller protests and less participation due to the inability to mass communicate. This highlights how democratic processes and freedom of expression can be intercepted by governments pushing for complete power. 

While the UN has initiated talks with the military, they have reached a semi-deadlock. The UN is pushing for Abdalla Hamdok to return to his position as prime minister, who has the following conditions: the release of top civilians detained during the coup and a return to democracy. However, the Sudanese military has refused because they are threatened by the implications of a democratic government on their power.

The most recent coup is one of many that has taken place in Sudan in the last six decades of its independence. In fact, throughout most of Sudan’s post-colonial history, coups have been the preferred method to seize power. While these coups cause instability in themselves, an argument can be made that they stem from the unstable circumstance that colonial powers left the nation in. Another conversation to be had is whether democracy is the best regime for post-colonial nations. As Americans championing democracy, we tend to overlook the circumstances of various nations and push for the regime that has worked for us. However, this coup, in particular, sheds light on the causes and effects of political instability and forces us to truly question our view of what changes are necessary. 

Image Credit: Image via “Mathias P.R. Reding’ / Pexels