By Maura Mulholland
This week in Sudan, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan proposes an end to military rule, and the institution of a new, civilian-based, pro-military government. Despite this proposition, military attacks against pro-democracy protestors continue as the protestors reject the deal.
Military rule has been the status quo in Sudan since October of last year, when Burhan and his forces held a coup d’etat and deposed the transitional government that had been working towards a shaky democracy in the country. The Sudan has historically struggled to institute a democratically elected government since gaining independence from the British in 1955. The country’s instability contributed to the secession of South Sudan in January of 2011. While Burhan and his forces claimed they were acting in the favor of the Sudanese people, wide-scale protests immediately proved that the Sudanese did not agree. Extreme clashes between protestors and the heavily armed coup participants have further exacerbated tensions. The most infamous of these, the Khartoum massacre of June 2019, resulted in the deaths of at least 128 pro-democracy demonstrators, and still casts a shadow over relations between the two factions today.
Burhan’s announcement came at the same time as his forces were working to violently disband a group of pro-democracy demonstrators hosting a sit-in, reinforcing demonstrators’ attitudes that Burhan does not intend to follow through on his words. Demonstrations have increased in fervor and numbers since his speech, which is seen as almost insulting in its lack of regard for the concerns of the protestors. Within his speech, Burhan did not discuss a new constitution for Sudan, or what the process of transition to the new government he described would look like. He also did not address protestors’ concerns of creating a Sudanese legislative assembly, or investigating the killings of numerous pro-democracy demonstrators by the army over the course of the insurgents’ reign.
The future of Sudan’s government is highly precarious. With no end in sight to the repeated clashes between military forces and democratically aligned citizens, the conflict drags on and the bodies keep piling. The most fitting description of relations is the democratic activists’ own motto: “no negotiation, no compromise, no partnership.”