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  • Arian Sauer

Sudan and the African Curse

4 years ago, thousands of Sudanese, many of them young people, flocked to the streets of their capital Khartoum. Despite the imminent threat of being shot by government forces, they protested against the dictator Omar al-Baschir. Al-Baschir had been ruling the Sudan almost 3 decades. Corruption and crisis had led to famine and the rise of food prices ultimately brought about the protests which led to one of the few examples in Africa, and Sudan for that matter, of a peaceful change of the regime in 2019.


Sudan is in the north-East of Africa, the third largest African country by area and home to approximately 42 million people. Since its independence in 1956, it has suffered numerous civil wars, most famously in the most impoverished region of Dafur, home to a terrible genocide.


When the military turned against Al-Bashir, the euphoria among the Sudanese was great and the power of dictator transferred to a government of generals and civilians, which was supposed to change after two years to an all-civilian government. The government was in place for two years, but the military staged a coup and arrested a few of the civilians in the government, overthrowing the government. A new deal was brokered to allow for a transition of power to a civilian government April 2023 and to integrate the different factions of the army into one military organization.


On April 15th, fighting broke out in Sudan after a dispute between two military generals regarding the way the country should be ruled. The people of Sudan are losing hope in their future: the two generals are following their own interests more than the wellbeing of their people.


On the one side is General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the de-facto leader of Sudan and responsible for the army. On the other side is General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, in charge of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the former “private” army of the dictator and responsible for numerous war crimes during the rule of Al-Baschir.


The original agreement said that the army and the RSF would become one, but the generals are not sure who will be in charge. Before the fighting started the RSF moved their troops to different areas in Sudan, which al-Burhan thought was a threat. No one is sure who started the fighting, but almost 500 people have been killed and 4000 injured. Bridges, roads and schools have been closed. On 18th April both generals agreed to a ceasefire, however the fighting continued, probably because the generals couldn’t trust each other.


While Kenya, South Sudan and Djibouti have agreed to send their presidents to help the generals negotiate, western nations like the US, the UK and many European countries have started to evacuate their citizens and diplomats. The UN has called upon the generals to stop fighting.


And so a peaceful transition of power on the African continent has yet again turned into violent war. The price will once again be paid by the civilians. Between 2001 and 2010 about 5 countries suffered a civil war per year. This number has now grown to 15.

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