Both the country's political forces and protestors rejected the agreement proposed by Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Chairman of the Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) and Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok because the agreement did not give the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) a role in the transitional government, and because the agreement was not between military and civilian actors, but rather between al-Burhan and Hamdok.
On October 25, 2021, Sudan saw another failed coup attempt. The attempt encouraged the resurfacing of tensions between civilians and the military component of the Transitional Government. In speeches, Al-Burhan proclaimed that the SAF was the guardian of the revolution and explained how he and other officers were deeply bothered by how their civilian counterparts and the FFC were complicit in the deterioration of the wellbeing of the Sudanese people. The civilian component of the government and the parties comprising the FFC criticized al-Burhan’s speeches for attempting to legitimize a planned coup.
Al-Burhan defended his seizure of the government, stating that he was saving Sudan from a civil war. However, prior to the takeover, a committee headed by Mohamed al-Faki, a TSC member, tasked with dismantling the former Bashir regime was in the process of exposing a complex, gold-smuggling corruption network in which Al-Burhan and some of his allies are allegedly involved. If exposed, Al-Burhan and his allies are likely not able to easily run for the presidency in the future. Also, it is understood that Al-Burhan is focused on consolidating his alliance with the former regime, which has 500,000 supporters throughout Sudan, including within state institutions, in order to use their political and economic support for his presidential ambitions in the post-transition elections. Thus, the committee’s role in confiscating the assets of former regime members and dismissing its supporters within state institutions hindered al-Burhan’s presidential ambitions.
Moreover, Al-Burhan is now focusing on creating close links with the Popular Congress Party (PCP) to support his ambitions. The PCP used to be part of the Sudanese Islamist Movement (SIM) that formed the basis of the former Bashir regime, and for this reason, both the FFC and the Sudanese people believe the PCP are no different than the former Bashir regime. It is understood that al-Burhan is attempting to advance his ambitions through his alliance with Gibril Ibrahim, the former minister of finance, head of the Justice and Equality Movement, and signatory of the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) who challenged the work of the dismantling committee openly. For this reason, Al-Burhan declared on the day of the coup that the work of the committee had been paused and that its work would be reviewed.
After backlash from the international community and the Sudanese people, Al-Burhan and Hamdok agreed to work together “to complete the democratic path towards serving the higher interest of the Sudan.” The Sudanese people are resisting this agreement as they believe it legitimizes a military takeover that does not address their needs nor represent what they envision for the future of Sudan. The protestors of this agreement want a civilian government, which cannot happen under the leadership of Al-Burhan and the military.
The agreement allows Al-Burhan and his allies to dictate the transition process like the former Bashir regime did by using elections and dividing civilians to gain international credibility. This makes it highly probable that Al-Burhan will head an authoritarian regime similar to that of the former Bashir regime, except that it will include a coalition of leaders that the former Bashir regime could not sway earlier, as well as Lt. General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti” and his Rapid Support Forces (RSF). However, the persistence of protests will likely pressure that coalition to abandon Al-Burhan, standing in the way of his presidential ambitions.
Jihad Mashamoun is a researcher and political analyst of Sudanese affairs. He holds a doctorate degree in Middle East politics from the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter. Follow him on Twitter: @ComradeJihad.