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Why the Military Promised to Withdraw from Power in Sudan

January 10, 2023
Hager Ali


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Hager Ali, a doctoral researcher at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies, analyzes why Sudan’s military is stepping away from government after seizing power via coup.

Little more than a year ago, the military side of the coalition charged with helping Sudan transition to democracy staged a coup, ousting the civilian elements of the coalition and seizing control of the country.

Despite the coup and the long precedent of military rule in Sudan, military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan stated from the beginning that the military would withdraw from direct rule. Why would a military do this after staging a risky coup?

A successful military coup does not guarantee power. Electoral victory after a coup is key to consolidation because it legitimizes coups after the fact, excludes political opponents, and paves the way for major reforms. Getting there, however, requires a political and administrative structure to carry the new regime through the volatile interim period before elections, when the rules of the future electoral game and its future players are in flux.

Power-sharing, political organizationdiffusing potential threats, and of course a functional, coherent military can make or break a new regime’s consolidation. Failure to govern in the interim, especially when domestic crises worsen, aggravates ongoing backlash from citizens and can turn dissatisfied factions within an army against the coup leader. The planned withdrawal of the Sudanese military from direct rule on the other hand shows why armies may voluntarily retreat after seizing power: coups do not pan out as anticipated, especially when coup leaders struggle to consolidate their takeover.

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