Sudanese Military Coup Dissolves Sovereignty Council

Sudanese soldeirs stand guard around armored military vehicles as demonstrators continue their protest against the regime near the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum (AFP)

In a brazen move, Sudan’s military seized power, capturing the Prime Minister and several political leaders. At least 3 people have been killed by military forces.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the orchestrator of the coup, was part of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, a collective head of state meant to transition Sudan to civilian control. Despite promises to establish a civilian government, his military junta has remained skeptical of civilian authority, constantly blocking civilian legislation in key decision-making.

The coup, weeks before Sudan would have transitioned to a civilian government, is an ill omen for Africa’s stability. Sudan remains one of Africa’s largest nations, even after South Sudan’s independence. Ongoing tensions with Egypt and particularly Ethiopia can only be exacerbated by a military government, and with protestors already on the streets demanding reform, the military government’s reaction could be catastrophic. In the past, the military used the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary force, to attack protestors. They precipitated the Khartoum massacre, where more than 700 protestors were killed, injured, or raped.

Earlier in September, the Whitehouse released a statement regarding a call between National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, whose whereabouts are unknown following his detention by Sudan’s military.

Mr. Sullivan highlighted that U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman will travel to Sudan next week to reaffirm U.S. support for the civilian-led transition and discuss regional security challenges. Mr. Sullivan expressed the urgency of promoting a peaceful resolution of the ongoing crisis in neighboring Ethiopia. Finally, Mr. Sullivan conveyed that President Biden looks forward to hosting and meeting with Prime Minister Hamdok in the near future.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan via Whitehouse Statement

With the Transitional Government disbanded, President Biden will need to react strongly against Sudan’s military coup. Last week, President Biden met with President Kenyatta of Kenya, where he stated that Kenya’s position as a large, stable African government would set an example to strive for. With Sudan as a similarly influential nation, the U.S. government should express a commitment to Sudan’s civilian government.

The coup in Myanmar earlier in the year has had the effect of normalizing the idea of military juntas taking control of the nation. Particularly during COVID, it was far more difficult to maintain an international supporting presence, due to the pandemic’s effects on the homeland. However, international outcry has begun mounting against the governments of Myanmar, Hungary, and other authoritarian states. The struggle of Sudan’s protestors cannot be ignored by the international community, lest the precedence of political ‘apathy’ be set by nations with the power to pressure authoritarian governments to enact change.

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