Protestors killed as Sudan deal reached

Four demonstrators were killed as the live fire was used during protests against poor economic conditions in Khartoum. The incident comes as a deal was reached between protest leaders and the ruling military council. Further talks are expected to discuss the composition of transition-government bodies and how long they are to operate before elections are held.

Background

The Sudanese Uprising (2018–19) are demonstrations that broke out in December 2018 in some Sudanese cities, due to spiralling costs of living and deterioration of economic conditions at all levels of society. The protests quickly turned from demands for urgent economic reforms into calls for Omar al-Bashir to step down. Mr Bashir was overthrown in April 2019. Sudan has since seen the transitional struggle as protestors demonstrate against a council of army generals who took power after Mr Bashir stepped down. 

Analysis

At least four demonstrators and one army major have been killed in Khartoum. The deaths came shortly after protest leaders, and ruling generals reached a deal on transitional authorities to run the country. Three soldiers and several civilians were also wounded during the incident when “unidentified elements” fired live rounds at a sit-in in Khartoum, the military council said. The military council said some of those engaging in demonstrations were rogue armed groups that were targeting military personnel. 

The transitional powers announcement came shortly after Sudan’s prosecutor general said that Mr Bashir had been charged over the killing of protestors during demonstrations that led to the end of his rule. The spokesperson for the protest movement welcomed Mr Bashir’s arraignment. 

The spokesperson, Taha Osman, said that that the negotiating groups had settled on three authorities during the transition period: the sovereign council, the cabinet and the legislative body. The announcement comes after a deadlock in negotiations. The timing of the statement shortly after Mr Bashir being charged indicates that his arraignment was a crucial point in talks. The breakthrough comes as analysts expect the number of protestors to reduce. This is because the summer months bring with it high temperatures and Sudan’s majority Muslim population are currently fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

However, the deaths are likely to spark continued demonstrations to pressure the military council to give into protester demands. This pressure is particularly important as more talks are expected “to discuss the period of transition and the composition of the authorities.” This period of transition is vital as authorities work towards elections once conditions in Sudan stabilise. For these elections to be free and fair, it is imperative that transition bodies are composed of those working to meet protestor demands. 

Assessment

Our assessment is that protests are likely to continue in Sudan as demonstrators look to pressure the military council to implement their demands of free and fair elections. We believe that upcoming talks are significant in meeting these demands as they address crucial aspects such as the length of the transition period and the composition of transition bodies. We feel that the military council and protests groups must look to ensure that armed rogue elements do not disrupt these proceedings. We estimate that the military council may use the presence of these elements to legitimise its use of violence. Protests groups must hold them to account.