On the first anniversary of a coup that derailed Sudan’s transition to civilian rule, activists are urging yet more protests against military rule.
Tuesday’s protest marks exactly one year after army chief Abdel Fattah al Burhan seized power, arresting the civilian leaders with whom he had agreed to share power in 2019, when mass protests compelled the army to depose Omar al Bashir.
Near weekly anti-coup protests have been met with force, most recently on Sunday when a protester was killed by a bullet fired by security forces, according to medics.
At least 118 people have been killed while demanding a return to civilian rule, a condition for Western governments to resume crucial aid they had halted in response to the coup.
Cut off from such aid, Sudan – already one of the world’s poorest countries – has plunged into a worsening economic crisis.
Between three-digit inflation and chronic food shortages, a third of Sudan’s 45 million inhabitants suffer from hunger, a 50 percent increase compared to 2021, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
The cost of food staples has jumped 137 percent in one year, which the WFP says has forced Sudanese to spend “more than two-thirds of their income on food alone, leaving little money to cover other needs”.
Even as they struggle with ever-declining purchasing power, many in the country worry that three years after the 2019 uprising that toppled Bashir, signs point to a reversal of their revolution.
Since the coup, several Bashir-era loyalists have been appointed to official positions, including in the judiciary, which is currently trying the former ruler.
The country is mired in uncertainty. Burhan’s pledge of elections next year is seen as far-fetched. No civilian leaders have taken up the mantle of the army chief’s promised civilian government and international mediation efforts remain stalled.
“Sudan doesn’t have the luxury of zero-sum games and political manoeuvres,” UN envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes tweeted Saturday. “All political actors need to put aside differences and focus on the best interest of the Sudanese people.”
Thousands had taken to the streets on Friday to demand “the fall of the regime”, also marking the 58th anniversary of the first uprising that toppled a military rule in a country with a coup-riddled history.
Sudan has enjoyed only brief spells of democratic rule over the decades.
Calls for protest on Tuesday insist “the revolution continues”.
“The demonstrations on October 25 will herald the irrevocable end of the putschist era,” read a call for protest shared by pro-democracy activists online.
“It will be the foundation of a new Sudan we build together, a politically and economically free Sudan, a civil democratic Sudan.”