Omar al-Bashir, the current president of Sudan, recently made headlines, calling for a national emergency at the presidential palace in Khartoum, the capital of the North-African nation Sudan. During the address, he stated, “I announce imposing a state of emergency across the country for one year. I announce dissolving the government at the federal level and at the provincial levels.” The decision was made after almost a year of protests concerning the economic and political situation of the nation.
These protests began in January 2018 because of concerns connected to the rising prices of goods such as bread and gas. After recommendations by the International Monetary Fund for economic reform, the government took to not only devaluating the Sudanese pound but also removing a multitude of wheat and electricity subsidies.
However, the protest later transitioned into a larger issue for Sudan: Omar al-Bashir himself. The former colonel took power in 1989 after a Coup d’état that he had organised with other military officers. Al-Bashir and others gained a victory, overtaking the government of Sadiq al-Mahdi. The newly instated military government began to inaugurate policies focused on implementing Sharia law on a national level and removing potential political competition. In the 1990s, the government granted Bashir total jurisdiction over the executive and legislative branches, prompting further concern from Western critics who entrain more democratic and liberal beliefs. Year after year, Bashir’s approval ratings have seen a decline and his harsh one-party rule has triggered a majority of violent outbreaks, such as the civil war between southern and northern parts of Sudan and the war in Darfur.
Protesters in the streets of Khartoum, 20th of January 2018
Just like in previous history, the protesters have not been able to march the streets of Khartoum safely, having been met with tear gas, live ammunition, and rubber bullets. This has caused dozens of deaths and even more injuries (according to government estimates, over 400 people in total), resulting in further frustration from the Sudanese people. Such a case is that of the 32 students studying at the University of Sennar, who were detained and arrested after a peaceful protest.
Even days after the state of emergency was declared, protesters are still determined, not refusing to leave. The leaders of the protest declared that they will not stop marching the streets of Khartoum until al-Bashir steps down from the presidency. Until then, violence is most likely to continue.