Sudan: Economy and Military in the Fall of Bashir

After thirty years in power, President Omar al-Bashir has been forced from office in Sudan. The announcement by the Sudanese military came following weeks of public demonstrations, which have led to sometimes violent repression.  This paper explores some of the key dynamics of the ongoing situation in Sudan. It identifies some of the deeper grievances that protestors have with the Bashir administration, for example; the consequences of economic mismanagement such as the large-scale sale of farmland to foreign investors while Sudanese continue to starve. It is proposed this occurred more frequently after the secession of South Sudan, and the loss of its vast natural resources. These, it is argued, were exacerbated by an over-vast security sector, swollen from a prior need to quell South Sudanese secessionists, who themselves have differing priorities and loyalties.

 

The paper also explores the role of the military, and how some of the regular armed forces have become increasingly alienated from central government in recent years and suggests that this was a key factor in the ultimate step of Bashir’s removal from power. It emphasizes caution in the long-term future of Sudan due to legitimate fears that this military coup may lead to continued authoritarian rule.

 


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[1] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/02/sudan-state-of-emergency-intensifies-brutal-government-crackdown-on-protests/

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47893955

[3] Human Rights Watch, as of 9th April, have estimated over 70 people have been killed: https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/04/09/sudan-protesters-killed-injured

[4] https://www.bic-rhr.com/research/algerian-elections-protests-bouteflika-and-absence-alternatives

[5] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-47891470

[6] See Foreign Policy for a more comprehensive information on the recent economic restrictions on Sudanese, including restrictions on ATM cash withdrawals: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/09/this-is-the-uprising-sudans-genocidal-dictator-always-feared/

[7] International Monetary Fund (2019). World Economic Outlook Database, April 2019. Available at: https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2019/01/weodata/index.aspx. Both figures provided are IMF staff estimates.

[8] For more information, see Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2019-sudan-nile-land-farming/

[9] Ibid.

[10] https://www.icc-cpi.int/darfur

[11] https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/programs/pages/sudan.aspx

[12] A report by The World Bank shows how the efficiency of the scheme was hampered my mismanagement in the late 1980s and 1990s: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/377141468778504847/The-Gezira-irrigation-scheme-in-Sudan-objectives-design-and-performance

[13] https://www.transparency.org/country/SDN

[14] International Monetary Fund (2019). World Economic Outlook Database, April 2019. Available at: https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2019/01/weodata/index.aspx. Data includes IMF staff estimates for all data for 2019.

[15] For instance, see the 2016 initiative between The World Bank and Sudan: http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2016/05/16/the-world-bank-group-and-sudans-ministry-of-agriculture-launch-the-2016-enabling-the-business-of-agriculture-report

[16] https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-historical-precedents-of-the-current-uprising-in-sudan

[17] Stockholm Peace Research Institute, (2018). SIPRI Military Expenditure Database. Available at: https://www.sipri.org/databases/milex. Figures include military, police and security services. Data between 2009-2014 is unavailable, and the % of GDP figure for 2018 is an estimate provided at the time of the data’s compilation, and thus may have reduced accuracy.

[18] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/09/world/africa/sudan-protests-al-bashir-army-clash.html

[19] Others have suggested that a crucial problem in Sudan is the lack of a unifying identity across the country due to the country’s diversity, which may also have contributed to fractures within the military institution: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/sudan/1995-05-01/fundamentalism-power-sudans-islamic-experiment

[20] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sudan-protests/sudanese-army-blocks-attempt-to-disperse-protesters-witnesses-idUSKCN1RK0DR

[21] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sudan-protests-qatar/qatari-emir-hosts-bashir-backs-unity-in-restive-sudan-idUSKCN1PH1I5; https://www.thenational.ae/world/gcc/king-salman-expresses-saudi-solidarity-with-sudan-president-omar-al-bashir-1.819798