Presented by Quscondy Abdulshafi on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at 12:00pm EDT.
Since its independence from British rule in 1956, Sudan has suffered a protracted civil war–one of the deadliest in Africa–which led to the secession of its southern region in 2011. Despite the separation of the South, Sudan has never tasted peace on both sides. Civil wars, repression, together with international sanctions and isolation led to economic collapse and unbearable living conditions. As a result, in December 2018, Sudanese people stood up against general Bashir’s 30 year old autocratic government. In less than three months the pro-democracy nonviolent movement forced general Bashir to step down, leading to the formation of a Transitional Military Council (TMC) to take power. The protests and sit-ins continued aiming to pressure the TMC to hand over power to civilians and allow the formation of a fully civilian-led transitional government through the interim period.
Sudanese people have a long history of leading successful pro-democracy movements against their military dictators. The first was in October 1964 when the Sudanese uprising ousted general Abbouda’s government and restored democracy. A few years after that movement, General Jaffar Numeri made another military coup. After 17 years of autocratic rule, Numeri was again ousted by the April 1985 uprising. In 1989, General Bashir led another military coup, this time under the National Islamic Movement. Bashir’s government was the most stringent, combining the Islamist party and their affiliates into the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Under the Bashir regime, the Sudanese people endured almost 30 years of Sudan’s darkest political era, leading to the country dividing in two, the indictment of the president by the International Criminal Court (ICC), militarized societies, and a destroyed economy and state apparatus.
Learning from their long-inherited experiences and regional experiences such as the Arab Spring and the Ethiopian Movement, Sudanese revolutionaries managed to overcome the most notorious regime in less than three months. The December 19, 2018, movement led by the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) and allies now faces a big question. Will the revolution break the prolonged cycle of political failure and establish a lasting democracy in Sudan? This presentation analyzes the Sudanese December 19 movement and discusses the context, actors and their roles, the movement building tactics, strategies achievements, and prospects.
Mohamed “Quscondy” Abdulshafi is a human rights activist and independent research consultant working with various organizations in peacebuilding and governance research. He’s a founding member of Darfur Student Movement, a student-led nonviolent movement against the genocide in Darfur. Quscondy is a winner of the Civil Society Leadership Award from the Open Society Foundations. Previously, he was a research fellow at Peace Direct. He was a founding staff the Sudan Democracy First Group, where he worked for several years in Kampala, Uganda. His research interests include inclusive peacebuilding, governance and youth participation.
Quscondy received his Dual MA in Sustainable International Development and Coexistence and Conflict Resolution at Heller School, Brandeis University, and a BA in Development Studies at Kampala International University.
Relevant Online Resources
Quscondy Abdulshafi — US should continue sanctions against Sudan until human rights improve (The Hill)
Quscondy Abdulshafi — Darfur Students protests against discriminatory measures from Bakht Alrida University (Peace Insight)
Stephen Zunes — How Sudan’s Pro-Democracy Uprising Challenges Prevailing Myths about Civil Resistance (Minds of the Movement)
Zoe Marks, Erica Chenoweth, and Jide Okeke — People Power Is Rising in Africa: How Protest Movements Are Succeeding Where Even Global Arrest Warrants Can’t (Foreign Affairs)
Andrew Edward Tchie — How Sudan’s protesters upped the ante and forced al-Bashir from power (Waging Nonviolence)