Tensions Between Sudan’s Military and Civilian Leaders Had Been Growing
Civilians were set to rule the country for the first time in more than three decades. But the military was concerned about losing power.,
Tensions between Sudan’s military and politicians grew in the last few months.
By Simon Marks
- Oct. 25, 2021, 7:01 a.m. ET
The weeks leading up to Monday’s coup in Sudan were fraught with tensions between the military and civilian leadership, which were battling to gain control of the nation’s future as a key deadline approached.
The jubilant mood that reigned when Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019 after 30 years in power gave way to sporadic protests, a failed coup last month and accusations from each side that the other had betrayed the ideals of the revolution.
Politicians insisted that the military should exit a ruling council ahead of Nov. 17, the date civilians said would mark the end of a three-year transition period. That would have been the first time civilians ruled the country in more than three decades.
As the deadline to transfer power approached, civilian leaders, including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, called for investigations of the military for the role it may have played in massacres and corruption under Mr. al-Bashir. Without a seat in the government, the military worried that it would face investigations it could not control.
Last month, tribal leaders accused Mr. Hamdok of failing to deliver on promises, and sent people to the Port of Sudan, the main commercial artery, to block traffic. That worsened a deteriorating economic situation. Sudan was already battling inflation and a food shortage. Mr. Hamdok accused the military of fomenting the protests as the transition deadline approached.
There were wider fears among military officials that civilian rule would lead to them being removed from the gold industry. The armed forces play a major role in mining gold and exporting it to Dubai.
“They have fears, they have interests and they have ambitions,” Yasser Arman, a political adviser to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, said in an interview at his office in Khartoum last week. “We keep the partnership on one condition: that the end game should be a democratic civilian state.”
As the civilian government gained pace and began implementing reforms, it quickly became clear that the military would lose power, he said.