Economic Strife Leads to Uprisings and Coup in Sudan

by Madison Li ’22


Published Oct. 20th, 2021

On September 21, 2021, Sudanese officials reported an attempted coup by military and civilians loyal to the nation’s former dictator, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Bashir had been overthrown in 2019 after the nation faced economic trouble. The government has since been transitioning into democracy.

The coup sought to take over a state media building near the capital, Khartoum. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok explained, “What happened is an orchestrated coup by factions inside and outside the armed forces… This is an extension of the attempts by remnants since the fall of the former regime to abort the civilian democratic transition.”

Sudan’s transitional government, led by its Sovereignty Council, released a vague statement declaring the coup had been defeated. 21 officers and an unquantified number of soldiers were captured, with an ongoing search for remaining perpetrators.

Prime Minister Hamdok mentioned that the same group had planned additional schemes to destabilize eastern Sudan. National roads and ports were blocked, leading to food and product shortages in Khartoum.

Military and civilian leaders in the Sovereignty Council were abnormally outspoken in their criticism of each other after the coup, with the military accusing civilians of pursuing political power and neglecting economic issues. “Politicians are the main cause behind coups because they have neglected the average citizen… and are more concerned fighting over how they can stay in power,” stated General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy to the head of the Sovereignty Council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

In November, General Burhan is meant to transfer leadership of the Sovereignty Council to Prime Minister Hamdok, a symbolic gesture that assumes full civilian political control.

Amjad Farid, former deputy Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, claimed, “There will be no stability without civilian oversight over all the state apparatus, including the military and intelligence agencies.”

The attempted coup highlights the dangerous delicacy of Sudan’s politics despite economic improvements. Although the government recognized Israel’s sovereignty, allowing for plans for $700 million from Congress and $2 million from the World Bank, public confidence in Prime Minister Hamdok has wavered. Since Bashir’s removal, the nation continues to be threatened by high rates of inflation, unemployment, and poverty.

Sudan has still been more stable than some nearby African countries though, which have also faced recent military coups and political strife. Any deterioration in Sudan could dramatically affect other African nations.

For the time being, there is still widespread public support for democracy. Elections in Sudan are anticipated for 2023.