Wednesday, December 19, 2018. The streets of Atbara, a major railway center in Sudan, were clamoring to denounce the rampant increase in bread prices. This social demand at the outset quickly progressed to become a political demand which eventually swept away, at the cost of many deaths, former President Omar al-Bashir. Flashback.
Sudan is remembering this Thursday the first anniversary of what can be called « the bread revolution ». Vivid demonstrations, the bed of which was the tripling of bread prices due to the economic slump, had taken root in Atbara, but also in Port Sudan, then in Nhoud (west), before reaching the capital Khartoum and its neighboring city of ‘Omdurman.
Faced with the scale of the protest, the police did not hesitate to bandage their muscles, causing numerous violence, including deaths. This bloody repression did not, however, dampen the hearts of the people. During almost daily rallies, the demonstrators greedily demanded for several weeks the fall in bread prices, and moreover, the resignation of President Omar el-Bashir, in power since 1989 and accused of a suffocating dictatorship, the most representative symbol is the war in Darfur for which it is sought by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
On April 11, the Sudanese people won their first victory. The army withdraws its support to Omar el-Béchir and dismisses him. A transitional military council is supposed to manage current affairs. But the last three decades under the reign of a military regime are not likely to reassure the protest which therefore calls for civilian power.
The challenge of the economic crisis
After a difficult series of talks amidst bloody repression on June 3, an agreement was finally reached between the protest and the generals, mediated by Ethiopia and the African Union.
A « political declaration », which endorses the principle of power sharing, was signed on July 17, providing for the creation of a Sovereign Council that will lead the country during a three-year transition to civilian rule.
On August 17, the Military Council and the leaders of the protest formally sign the transition agreement including the need to sign peace agreements with rebel groups in Darfur (west) and in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states , border crossers of South Sudan.
Immediate consequences of this agreement, a Prime Minister is appointed, in the person of Abdallah Hamdok, a cease-fire has been declared in the crisis regions of Darfur, the Blue Nile and South Kordofan and even more emblematic for protesters, former president Bashir was convicted of corruption, his party dissolved and his regime « dismantled ».
However, for the protest and the whole country, a new battle was waged, that of economic renaissance. Because, despite the victories garnered, the image of Sudan has not yet been restored and the country remains mired in an economic crisis. One year after the start of the dispute, it still suffers from the effects of the American economic embargo (1997-2017): Washington keeps it on its black list of “States supporting terrorism”, which de facto excludes it from the system financial institution and bars the way to foreign investment.