Photograph — PRI

“The chronic instability and political deadlock since the coup in 2019 has had serious economic consequences in Sudan,” -Ovigwe Eguegu, Policy Analyst at Development Reimagined.

Saturday, 15th of April was a day of terror in the North African country of Sudan as tensions between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) escalated to an unexpected blood bath. The conflict between the warring party erupted in Khartoum just before 9:00 am that fateful day. Heavy gunfire and explosions were heard from several locations in Khartoum, the capital city. It was a regular day like every other day before it. People had gone about their day as usual.

At the Khartoum International Airport, airlines were getting ready to take off. Some passengers were already onboard airbuses ready for take off. But like a locust invasion, the fight had reached the airport also, forcing passengers to disembark from flights and shutting down not only the airport’s operations but also the country’s airspace. Some passengers were injured in the process and a few commercial aeroplanes were badly affected. Some of the airline operators affected include Emirates, Turkish Airlines, Flynas, flydubai, Egyptair, and SAUDIA, among others.

As the violence spreads across the country, there have been several calls for a ceasefire from both the United Nations and African leaders. Although the ceasefire was proposed to start at 6 pm on Tuesday (18th of April), heavy fighting still occurred at the Khartoum airport. At that time, at least 270 people have been killed and more than 2,600 injured in the unrest. More so, several humanitarian workers, EU delegates and civilians have been assaulted.

Expert opinion

In response to questions from Ventures Africa, Ovigwe Eguegu, Policy Analyst at Development Reimagined, analysed the implication of the crisis on investment and international financing for Sudan. He notes that whenever there is a crisis in a country, there would always be a concern in the investment community as investors fear the risks unfolding events pose on their businesses.

“The situation in Sudan is primarily a power struggle between two leaders- General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, leading the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, leading the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). It’s a winner-take-all situation, as such, the likelihood of getting both sides to compromise is slim,” says Ovigwe. “The political and security context makes Sudan a very difficult environment for investors in the short to medium term .”

Further commenting, Ovigwe says: “The real challenge now is avoiding a full-blown civil war. The desperation of both parties and the multiplicity of foreign powers with vested political interests complicate the situation. A protracted conflict could worsen livelihoods and increase the outflow of refugees to neighbouring countries.”

Sudan’s Military take over of 2019

In 2019, a coup d’état ousted former long-serving dictator President Omar al-Bashir following massive civil disobedience that is now described as the first stage of the Sudanese Revolution. Consequently, the constitution was suspended and the Military took over the government and Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was sworn in as leader of the new Sovereign Council. The military also appointed economic expert Abdalla Hamdok as Prime Minister to an interim joint civilian-military unity government to jointly create reforms and help transition the country into democracy after 3 years.

But on 25 October 2021, the Sudanese military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, took control of the transition government from Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in a bloodless military coup. At least five senior government figures were initially detained, including civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. As of 5 November 2021, more government ministers, members of political parties, lawyers, civil society activists, journalists, human rights activists and protest leaders were detained in unknown locations.  

Following the coup, on 26 October, the African Union suspended Sudan’s membership, pending a return to power of the Hamdok government. By 27 October, the European Union, the United States and other Western powers stated that they continued to recognise the Hamdok cabinet as the constitutional leaders of the transitional government and insisted on their ambassadors having access to Hamdok.

Since the coup, economic activities never remained the same in the North African country. “The chronic instability and political deadlock since the coup in 2019 has had serious economic consequences. In 2022, Sudan had record gold production, but 50% of its gold is reportedly smuggled out of the country.  As such, the rise in the gold sector isn’t translating into economic growth and better livelihood for Sudanese,” Ovigwe adds.

Earlier, in February, Sudan approached the African Union to remove its sanctions. But the current political unrest in the country would only paint the country in a bad light and hamper diplomatic relations with the international community.

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