What's REALLY Happening in Sudan? (And How Is OMPT Involved?)
If you’ve been watching the news, you’ll know that Sudan has been experiencing extreme turmoil over the last six months. From deposed dictator to a sit-in and now a country disconnected from the world, Sudan is home to a people fighting desperately for democracy.
Below, we’ve outlined the timeline of events that led up to this crisis. Once you’re done, keep reading to see how OMPT will help.
Sudan: A Timeline of Events
1989: Omar al Bashir, officer in the Sudanese army, stages a successful coup against former President Jaafar al-Nimeriri. Al-Bashir appoints himself chair of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, the party in power and quickly moves to dissolve all other political parties.
1993: Al-Bashir is formally elected as president of Sudan. Sudan becomes increasingly totalitarian and largely influenced by Islamic law.
1997: U.S. President Bill Clinton imposes sanctions on Sudan citing concerns of promoting terrorism and human rights violations.
1998: Sudanese legislators lift ban on political parties.
2003: Rebel groups in the western Sudanese city of Darfur revolt against authorities over alleged abuses. To quell the uprising, al-Bashir employs the help of Janjaweed militias, who terrorize the local populations displacing over 2.8 million and killing over 480,000.
2005: The government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement sign a historic peace treaty to end the conflict and develop solutions for the rebuilding of Darfur.
2008: The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor calls for an arrest warrant against al-Bashir, for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in Darfur. Al-Bashir denies allegations and proclaims his innocence.
2009: The ICC issues an arrest warrant for al-Bashir, marking the first attempt by the ICC to arrest a sitting head of state.
2010: First multi-party election since the ban on opposition parties in 1989. The two main rival opposition parties withdrew from the campaign over alleged fraudulent practices ensuring al-Bashir’s victory, winning 68% of the vote.
2015: Al-Bashir wins another term as president marked by low voter turnout. The BBC reports, “turnout was officially 46% but BBC Sudan reports many believe the figure was much lower.”
2018: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) issues recommendations to al-Bashir to cut subsidies on bread and fuel intended for low income families, citing the subsidies as too expensive and counterproductive. Al-Bashir implements pricing recommendations issued by the IMF. Protests erupt in the capital over rising cost of living.
Dec. 19, 2018: Motivated by rising food cost and fuel, anti-government protest grow larger, calling for al-Bashir to step down. Al-Bashir’s security forces crack down on the protest and dozens are killed within the first five days of protest, as reported by Amnesty International. Other international observers believe more than 60 are killed in total in days proceeding Dec. 24.
Feb. 22, 2019: Al-Bashir, declares a one year state of emergency. He then issues a set of decrees curtailing fundamental rights in a manner unprecedented since Sudan gained independence in 1956. The government issued statements that the decrees were meant to address the economic concerns in the country. Contrarily, many believe the true aim was to quench the protest contesting al-Bashir’s legitimacy as head of state.
April 6, 2019: Security forces and protesters confront one another in the capital, Khartoum. Heavy gunfire soon follows, killing over 22 people as reported by on-scene medics. Protests gain momentum after the confrontation and following the resignation of the Algerian President after similar public demonstrations to those in Sudan.
April 11, 2019: Al-Bashir is arrested by members of the military. Sudan's defense minister, Awad Mohammed Ahmned Ibn Auf, states on live television that a transitional military council will rule the country for two years before elections can take place. Alaa Salah, an icon of the protest movement tweeted, “The people do not want a transitional military council. Change will not happen with Bashir’s entire regime hoodwinking Sudanese civilians through a military coup. We want a civilian council to head the transition.”
April 12, 2019: Awad Mohammed Ahmned Ibn Auf, steps down as transition leader as links to him and the bloodshed in Darfur are brought forth in rallies against him and he appoints Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan as transition council leader.
April 19, 2019: Security forces find hordes of cash inside al-Bashir’s home. Reports from a Sudanese judiciary official estimate over $100 million was found. Prosecutors state an investigation for money laundering is underway.
April 21, 2019: Organizers for the protest suspend talks with the Transitory Military Council (TMC) citing that their demands to transfer to a civilian government have been ignored.
April 27, 2019: Talks between the military council and protest leaders resume.
May 15, 2019: Agreement is reached between the parties for a three-year transition from TMC rule to a full civilian administration. However, the opposition remains fragmented into numerous political factions, all seeking to fulfill their own demands.
May 28, 2019: Sudan’s protest movement launched a two-day strike in protest intended to pressure the military into handing over power to a civilian authority, despite apparent agreements made in mid May. Protesters further demanded “limited military representation” in the transitional council. Military officials would not cede to this demand.
June 3, 2019: The Rapid Support Forces storm a sit-in protest camp killing dozens and further escalating the conflict in Sudan. Western government agencies have condemned the attack and demanded the transition to a civilian-led authority, However, the Gulf states have conveyed support for the military leaders in Sudan with the Saudis and Emirates offering $3 billion in “aid,” allegedly to increase leverage in negotiations with the protesters. Weeks prior to the incident, numerous Sudanese generals met with Mohammad bin Salmon of Saudi Arabia and Prince Mohammad bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates.
June 4, 2019: The military junta government shut down all mobile Internet and most hard-wired connections throughout the country, hoping to further quell pro-democracy opposition--and, some say, so that the rest of the Sudanese people not living in Khartoum won’t see how violently they attacked the sit-ins.
June 7, 2019: Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed visited Sudan in attempts to mediate the conflict. A press release reported Prime Minister Ahmned said, “The TMC expressed its openness and keenness to negotiate to reach satisfactory understandings that will lead to a national consensus…, leading to the establishment of a democratic transition.” Following meetings with the TMC and opposition leaders, two opposition officials were detained early the next morning.
June 10, 2019: Lieutenant General Jamaleddine Omar, from the TMC, said that, “The Alliance for Freedom and Change (Protest Group) is fully responsible for the recent unfortunate incidents...including blocking roads which is violating international humanitarian laws.”
June 17, 2019: Without the internet, protesters are taking to phone calls and good old-fashioned talking. Smaller protests are beginning again at night both in Khartoum and neighboring cities.
Note: there is no doubt we have missed many things here, but we’ve done our best to record the most note-worthy events from a nonpartisan point of view. Comments are encouraged!
OMPT’s Mission in Sudan
Why is OMPT focused on Sudan? The ongoing developments in Sudan have made it a priority target for OMPT’s intervention. In fall of 2018, OMPT began conversations to work with CARE International to conduct workshops in Sudan, first in Darfur and then later in Khartoum. However, due to the instability in the region, we and our partners have decided to relocate our workshop to Kenya. We will still be training NGO staff and trainers from Sudan, so that they can then take this knowledge back to their home countries and empower them to make a difference in their communities.
What will the workshops address? The workshop will address two key projects that CARE is working on in Sudan. The first is a WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) project aimed at improving water, sanitation, hygiene. The second is focused on strengthening civil society and is in partnership with the Every Voice Counts Programme, which aims to contribute to inclusive and effective governance processes in fragile settings.
Why is it so important? Our workshop is critical in preventing the spread of diseases within the displaced communities, ensuring accountability for the government, and prompting civilian participation in government. CARE Sudan staff will learn to create videos promoting healthy behaviors and demonstrating how civilians can influence government policy. The videos will be used in two separate trainings by CARE Sudan staff:
The WASH videos will be shown to refugees via mobile projectors in the Darfur region will the goal of improving WASH in refugee camps.
The civil society videos will be shown via mobile projectors to youth and women from pastoral and agricultural communities in two localities in South Darfur and two localities in East Darfur.
OMPT is excited and humbled to be a part of making a difference in such a turbulent time and place, and our hopes are high for a more peaceful and democratic Sudan in the near future.