KHARTOUM: A failed coup is reported in Sudan, which has gone through a fragile transition since the overthrow of the autocratic Omar Al-Bashir two years ago. Here is a recap of events since the military dictator was toppled.
2019: Bashir rule ends
On April 11, 2019, four months after mass protests sparked by a hike in bread prices spiral into wider demands for reforms, Sudan’s army remove Bashir from power. He is replaced with a transitional military government. Thousands camp in front of army headquarters demanding civilian rule. Talks between the generals and protest leaders break down.
Armed men move in on the protest camp on June 3 and dozens are killed in a days-long crackdown. A feared paramilitary group that sprang from the notorious Janjaweed militia, accused of war crimes in the 2003 Darfur conflict, is blamed for the violence.
After the African Union intervenes, civilian and military factions agree to share power before a transition to civilian rule. On August 17, a “constitutional declaration” is signed. In October, the government and rebel groups who had fought Bashir’s iron-fisted rule for decades agree a “permanent ceasefire” in the country’s three war zones.
On December 14, Bashir is ordered to be detained for two years after he is convicted of corruption. The autocrat has long been wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to face charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the 2003 Darfur conflict in which 300,000 people died. A Khartoum prosecutor rejects extradition as not “necessary”.
2020: Spreading unrest
On March 9, 2020 Sudan’s premier Abdalla Hamdok survives an assassination attempt which many see as a bid to derail the transition. Inflation skyrockets in April to 99 percent and keeps rising as food prices soar after borders are closed to tackle the coronavirus. The economic crisis deepens in Sudan, already weakened by decades of US sanctions and mismanagement under Bashir. On June 30, street demonstrations reiterate demands for justice for people killed under Bashir and during the protests of recent years. The international community pledges $1.8 billion to help lift Sudan out of crisis.
Bashir tried for coup
On July 21, 2020, Bashir goes on trial in Khartoum for the 1989 coup that brought him to power. The government devalues the currency in a bid to curb black market activity as it struggles with an “economic emergency”.
In October, Sudan signs a landmark peace deal with an alliance of rebel groups. Two key rebel groups refuse to sign and key tribes in Sudan’s east also oppose it, saying it is not representative of them. Also in October, Sudan agrees to normalize ties with Israel. This is seen as a quid pro quo move before the US removes Sudan from its State Sponsors of Terrorism list in December.
Tension with Ethiopia
In November 2020, conflict breaks out in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, sending tens of thousands of refugees into Sudan. The fighting rekindles a decades-old dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia over the fertile border region of al-Fashaga. Khartoum sends troops to secure the area. The two countries are already at odds over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which sparked a major regional dispute over Nile river water that also involves Egypt. In August 2021, Ethiopia says it has thwarted an attack on the dam by armed groups “trained and armed by Sudan”, a claim Khartoum denies as baseless.
2021: Fragile government
Sudan in February announces a new cabinet including seven ministers from ex-rebel groups. In June, Hamdok warns of fractures within the civilian alliance which spearheaded the anti-Bashir protests. He also points to worrying splits within the main security blocs.
Bashir to be handed over
On August 11, Sudan’s cabinet says it has agreed to hand Bashir over to the ICC. The decision however awaits ratification by the civilian-military sovereign council.
Sudan embarks on tough economic reforms backed by the International Monetary Fund to qualify for debt relief. In February, it launches a managed float of the Sudanese pound, and in June it scraps subsidies on petrol and diesel. The measures are seen by many Sudanese as harsh and spark sporadic protests.
Khartoum announces a failed coup attempt by civilian and military plotters linked to Bashir’s ousted regime. Hamdok says the attempt highlights the crisis gripping Sudan and the urgent need for reforms in the security sector. – AFP