diwan20_ASHRAF SHAZLYAFP via Getty Images_burhan ASHRAF SHAZLYAFP via Getty Images

Can Sudan's Democratic Opening Be Reopened?

The widespread popular opposition to last month’s coup in Sudan demonstrates the public’s rejection of military dictatorship. But more generous international financial and political support is vital if the country’s transition to democracy is to resume and have a chance of succeeding.

CAIRO – The 2019 power-sharing agreement between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders, which envisaged a transition to a democratic order following the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir’s dictatorship, was never going to be easy to implement. But following last month’s military coup, the question now is whether democracy is still even on the agenda at all.

The military and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), representing the revolutionaries who toppled Bashir in April 2019, distrusted each other from the start, but had no choice other than to compromise after his ouster. Civilian leaders suspected that the army, which first headed the Transitional Sovereignty Council, had no intention of relinquishing power by midterm (in November 2021), as per the constitutional agreement. The army leaders were torn between a fear of street power, and a desire to protect their economic privileges while preventing retribution for past misdeeds.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the army (and the Council) who led the coup on October 25, has called for Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s government to be replaced with an apolitical administration. Burhan says that political parties have wielded undue influence on the FFC, dividing the country and blocking economic and political progress.