The Horn of Africa has become one of the most volatile regions of the world over the past few years. With political stability in Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea and Kenya, the region was in a much better state of affairs. However, things have deteriorated fast with Sudan and Ethiopia immersed in local and cross border troubles.
Although there is an ongoing civil war in Ethiopia and Sudan has used the situation to occupy Ethiopian territory, the situation is not actually far better on the Western side of the border. Politically, the civilian and military sections of the Sudanese transitional government seem to have a hard time working together. Each section also has its own power competitions within itself. Economically, the people of Sudan are grappling with hard to grasp levels of commodity price hikes. Trading economics noted that inflation rate in Sudan averaged 48.76 percent from 1971 to 2021. That reality has changed enormously as inflation reached 423 percent in July and slightly improved to 388 percent in August.
The military-civilian marriage that set out to transpire to a civilian administration at the end of the transitional period seems to be having a rocky time. The two sides have been exchanging unpleasant words throughout the transitional period. So, when there was news of a failed coup on September 21, 2021, it didn’t take much time for the two sides to blame each other.
The civilian leaders depicted the incident as just another instance of the need for security-sector reform. On the other hand, military leaders pointed out that the worsening economic realities provide a conducive environment to take action against the government. The transitional government allotted defense and security issues to the military while economic matters are left for the civilian side of the administration.
The tussles between the two sides might have far-reaching consequences on the establishment of a civilian government in Sudan and the projected transition into a democratic government. There is an ongoing debate on who orchestrated the coup and why. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok stated that the coup was orchestrated by remnants of Al Bashir’s regime. He chose not to exacerbate the tension with the military. Despite the fact that the coup was orchestrated by high military officials, he preferred to commend the military on the good job they did to thwart the attempt.
President of the sovereignty council and commander-in-chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, was not that diplomatic in his speeches. He described Sudanese politicians as being out of touch with the economic demands of the people and as being more interested in power. He expressed his dissatisfaction about the exclusion of the military component from the way forward program of PM Hamdok. He was quoted as saying: “we left the executive work to the Council of Ministers two years ago, but we believe that the issue has deviated from the right track…we are guardians of the unity, security, construction and future of Sudan, despite anyone’s objection.” The Lt Gen also described the coup as an attempt to divide the armed forces.
His views are shared by the vice-president of the Sovereignty council and Commander-in-chief of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Lt Gen Mohammad Dagalo ‘Hemeti’. He stated that the politicians neglected the people, their living situation and basic services while being preoccupied with the division of positions.
Yet some others have their doubts about the authenticity of the coup. The fact that it neede little effort to be aborted is one of the factors for their doubt. Those with this view argue thaft the military might have used insecurity as a pretext to underscore the continued presence of the military in Sudanese politics.
Despite their similar stands about the coup, El Burhan and Hemeti are said to have differences of their own. One of the points agreed up on in the formation of the transitional government was the integration of the various armed forces into the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). In early June, however, there were reports that Hemeti publicly rejected the integration of his Rapid Support Forces (RSF) into the Sudanese Armed Forces.
Forces led by Hamdok, El Burhan and Hemeti seem to have their ownagendas despite their continued participation in a government. Whether they manage to come over their differences and how long such a tension lingers would determine the length of time the Sudanese people have to wait before they see some hope.