The Struggle for Sudan's Soul: The Perils of a Turbulent Transition

The Zambakari Advisory |Africa Report No. 9 13 May 2023

9 Pages Posted: 30 May 2023

Date Written: May 16, 2023

Abstract

Sudan is in crisis. Again. Sudan is further tattered, further cleaved and mutilated.

The third-largest country in Africa has been marred by political instability and violence for decades. The country has experienced multiple civil wars, military coups and political upheavals. Chaos and states of emergency are almost commonplace, and millions of her people have been displaced. Poverty is widespread and political oppression is the order – or disorder – of the day. Again.

And now Sudan has seen a surge in violence, with clashes between various political factions and the military. The current and deadly storm is essentially a house-divided against itself with civilians trapped underneath the trampling of two fighting elephants. The renewed fighting threatens an-already fragile peace agreement. The latest bloodshed – more than 400 dead and as many as 1,600 wounded in the first two weeks of the renewed fighting – shakes its brutal clenched fist, suggesting the return to a full-blown civil war.

A power struggle between Sudan’s army and a notorious paramilitary force has rocked the country. The two rival groups are tearing the already-upside-down turf asunder. The fighting has spread deep into the Spain-sized Darfur region in Sudan’s western stretches – nearly 250,000 square kilometres of basement rock and volcanic plugs that have been the stage for a brutal cycle of violence, insurgencies and counterinsurgencies.

It’s horrible, unimaginable stuff, even when viewed from thousands of miles away. For those who have witnessed firsthand the butchery of the battle, it is déjà vu, a transition from authoritarian-military rule to civilian rule that follows an old script. A two-act tragedy that begins with a military coup, then infighting between military leaders.


The fighting that began the second week in April is part of a power struggle between a pair of once-aligned generals: Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who heads Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council and the Sudanese Armed Forces, and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, or “Hemedti,” the council’s deputy and commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Their give-no-quarter tug-of-war once again has Sudan in the international spotlight.

How did this happen, again? What steps are necessary to end the violence? The questions are easy. The answers? Not so much.

Keywords: North Africa, democratic transition, Sudan Troubled transition, Civil war, East Africa, MENA, Turmoil Conflict, Humanitarian crisis, Military coup, Transitional government, International community, Africa

Suggested Citation

Zambakari, Christopher, The Struggle for Sudan's Soul: The Perils of a Turbulent Transition (May 16, 2023). The Zambakari Advisory |Africa Report No. 9 13 May 2023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4449377 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4449377

Christopher Zambakari (Contact Author)

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