On April 11, a military coup broke out in Sudan resulting in the resignation of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Subsequently, the military headed by Awad Ibn Auf dissolved the Parliament, people’s councils, courts, and prosecution offices. Almost the entire bureaucratic hierarchy would have to be reestablished and, probably, there will be no staffing problems, since all political prisoners will be amnestied and soon released.
According to the statements of Sudanese Defense Minister, Lt Gen Awad Ibn Auf, who took oath as interim head of state, we know that:
• Sudan closes its airspace for 24 hours and imposes a night-time curfew and a three-month state of emergency;
• The country borders are closed until the military consider the situation in the country stable and the population is notified thereof;
• Ibn Auf will remain in power for a two-year transition period, after which elections will be held.
A revolution from below (unlike a military coup) is always a thunder-clap, almost impossible to predict (those saying otherwise play deceitfully). However, an increase in the critical mass of protest gives a possibility to roughly estimate the level of negative energy to be inevitably released. In Sudan, this energy has been accumulating since December 2018 – people took to the streets after a sharp increase in bread and fuel prices.
A blow-off came on April 6, when thousands of Sudanese started gathering by the army headquarters. Tear gas and shots into the air were attempted to disperse demonstrators, but most remained on the site. They called on the army to support the protest and discuss a “caretaker government” that would replace President al-Bashir.
Till the morning of April 9, the crowd sang songs, shouted political slogans and prayed collectively in front of the Sudanese army headquarters in the center of Khartoum.
During the day, the security forces made another attempt to disperse them with tear gas and shots into the air.
On the night of 10-11 April, the army convened a council, which decided to remove the President and his entourage. This was preceded by reports of victims among the military, allegedly fired by the security services. Earlier, the military formed a perimeter to prevent the security services from dispersing the crowd of protesters.
On the morning of April 11, the military arrested President al-Bashir and moved him to a “safe place”. At that same time, the army announced its plans to establish a military council that would lead the country throughout the transition period.
By the midday, it became obvious that a radical version of the “Algerian scenario” was being implemented in Sudan: the army was forcefully suppressing the security services, arresting and even storming their buildings with firearms.
After the major arrests the crowd began to celebrate the resignation of President, but the rejoicing was soon replaced by new protests, as some members of opposition suspected that this option of power transit was contemplated in advance and the new head of state was a man from al-Bashir’s team.
Even if this were true, the Algerian version of such castling move appears far more elegant, since, firstly, everything there went without bloodshed, and, secondly, the primary initiator of all resignations, Ahmed Gaed Salah, Algeria’s chief of the general army staff, retained his image of the national hero. Probably, Awad Ibn Auf should also have found a formal interim non-military president (as is the case with the Algeria’s interim president Bensalah, who is currently earning the ire of the opposition).
Anyway, Ibn Auf’s personality as a man from the Omar al-Bashir’s inner circle and his present status as head of state confirm that, despite the capital demolition of the Sudanese state machine, its basement is quite strong. At the moment, the primary task of the military is to prevent the protesters from flying into a rage and to preserve what has left to start building anew.
Here by “what has left” we mean not only the hierarchy of the local elite or political tradition, but also international relations. Sudan is a guarantor of peace in South Sudan and if this process is undermined it would become a more severe ordeal to the entire region than al-Bashir’s resignation.