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When Civilian Protests Facilitate Coups d’Etat

April 14, 2022
Salah Ben Hammou


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Salah Ben Hammou, Ph.D. student of security studies at the University of Central Florida, analyzes why the power grab in Sudan resulted in authoritarianism.

Monday marked three years since Sudanese officers toppled longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in a coup d’etat.

In April 2019, the military intervened amid a wave of sustained civil disobedience. Mass demonstrations against the ruler, originally spearheaded by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), had filled the streets since late December 2018. Due to further civilian pressure after the coup, the armed forces entered a political agreement with pro-democracy groups and political parties known as the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) to navigate a transition toward democratic and civilian rule.

Today’s context is unfortunately much different than what many hoped for in those early days. Sudan’s officers are violently consolidating their authority in the country. In late October 2021, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan staged a coup against the transitional government and ended the power-sharing arrangement with the FFC. Days before the power-grab, former rebel groups and rogue members of the government organized protests in Khartoum, demanding that the military intervene and take power. Although much larger pro-civilian demonstrations followed, the armed forces answered the calls of the pro-military protestors. Now, the military is drafting a new transitional agreement with its civilian allies to entrench its power.

Despite protests preceding both events, the 2019 coup was ultimately followed by a democratic transition whereas last year’s power grab reintroduced authoritarianism. Why?

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.