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Sudan: The Kandaka Revolution

The current Sudanese protest is exceptionally significant due to women whose participation is unprecedented all over the world. For all intents and purposes, it could be dubbed the Womens’ Revolution—the Kandakas. In addition to burgeoning the numbers of the protesters, the Sudanese women have inspired many people in the region. But will they inspire a regi0nal struggle for the emancipation of women?

The Sudan is used to revolutions and coup d’etat. Throughout the last 64 years, since its independence from British rule in 1956, Sudan has been under the influence of the generals who led a number of coup d’etat. But the last military rule of Omar al-Bashir was the most brutal, the most destructive to the nation, and stayed in power for the longest period: 30 years.

The first Sudanese prime minister, Ismail al-Azhari, stayed for six-months and until he was replaced by Abdallah Khalil who served less than two years. And in November 1957 he was overthrown by General Ibrahim Aboud.

Six governments later, in October 1969 General Jaafer al-Numeri led another coup d’etat and was in power until 1971 when Major Hashim al-Atta led a communist coup against him. But the coup d’etat lasted for only a few days and ended when Gaddafi of Libya intercepted the would-be Sudanese prime minister’s plane when it was en route from London to Khartoum over Libyan airspace. The coup was aborted, Hashim al-Atta was arrested, and together with other members of his group, he was summarily court marshaled and faced a firing squad. Al-Numeiri regained his power and became more vengeful.

However, another communist attempt to overthrow Numeiri was made in 1975 by Brigadier Hassan Osman. But Numeri’s supporter, General Elbagir, managed to abort the coup and in a matter of hours al-Numeiri was back  in full control. General Hussein Osman and his collaborators were executed.

Still, in 1976 al-Numeiri faced another attempt against his regime by forces loyal to the Umma Party of Sadiq al-Mahdi; in the process thousands of people were killed in Umdurman and Khartoum. al-Numeiri arrested the plotters and 96 of them were executed.

In 1983 al-Numeiri declared Sharia law that focused on cutting hands and capital punishment. By doing so, he alienated many people, mainly the Southern Sudanese. He also hanged Mamhoud Mohammed Taha, a prominent thinker. Two years of tense situation followed and in April 1985 General Suwar al-Dahab led a coup and deposed the government of al-Numeir who was in New York. Suwar al-Dahab brought al-Numeiri’s madness to an end and promised a civilian government in 2 years–he kept his promise

In May 1986, an election brought Sadiq al-Mahdi back to the premiership. However, in June 1989, he was ousted by General Omar al-Bashir, who was allied to Hassen al-Turabi’s  National Islamic Front (NIF). The thirty-year long al-Bashir rule had begun. Finally, in April 2019, al-Bashir was ousted by the army after five months of popular protests.

Is it a continuation of the military culture?

Sudan is not new to political upheavals and its history is replete with revolutions and ousting of governments by the military. Now, many observers are skeptical if the Transitional Military Council (TMC) would ever return to the barracks leaving the government to the civilians.

On June 17, the US Department of Justice disclosed that Lt. General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemeti” has signed a $6 million dollar agreement with Dickens & Madson, a Canadian lobbying firm operating from Montreal. However, it’s not clear whether the lobbying firm is tasked with polishing the image of the TMC or with the difficult task of rehabilitating the damaged reputation of Sudan!

A few weeks ago, Lt. General Mohammed Hemeti stated that Sudan has 30,000 soldiers in the Saudi-led force waging a war in Yemen. Also in June, the Libyan government showed prisoners caught while fighting alongside Hifter, the retired Libyan General who is backed by the Saudi-UAE-Egypt axis, and is fighting to defeat the Libyan government and take power. The Libyan television identified the captured Hifter combatants as Chadians and other Africans. However, some sources indicated they are actually Sudanese soldiers under the command of the UAE that uses them as mercenaries in its wars in the region.

And that Sudanese involvement is creating channels for funds flowing in to Khartoum from the major financial powers of the region. Observers believe that the more the TMC plunges into the regional quagmire, the more difficult it will be for it to retreat and hand over power to the civilians.

The Ethiopian mediation and the hurdle

In the first week of June, Prime Minister Abiy visited Khartoum, met with the TMC and the protesters, and offered to mediate between the two sides. Both accepted the offer and the Ethiopian PM appointed Ambassador Mahmoud Derir, a senior Ethiopian diplomat, as his envoy to mediate. So far, backed by the African Union, the Ethiopian mediation has made progress and the brokering efforts has reached its pinnacle—details are expected to be announced anytime now. However, the coming weeks will show if the harvest will be enough to usher the much-needed peace and freedom. Again, it all depends on the honesty and dedication of the TMC and the protesters alike.

However, notably, when the Ethiopian initiative that’s supported by the African Union was announced, Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea lambasted the AU mediation but came short of criticizing the Ethiopian involvement. That reservation was expected for two reasons: 1) he has made a peace agreement with PM Abiy and it was sponsored by the Saudi and UAE leaders, 2) he is sailing carefully not to step over the toes of his Saudi Arabia and UAE sponsors.

Nevertheless, on July 5, 2019, the Sudanese agreement between the protesters and the transitional military council (TMC) was announced with little details.

Between March and early April, the Eritrean foreign minister has visited six countries carrying letters from his president, including one to King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the main sponsor of the regional governments.

On May 20, Osman Saleh and Yemane Gbreab met General Abdulfetah al-Burhan, and in June 13, al-Burhan received the Eritrean ambassador to Sudan who carried a letter from Isaias Afwerki. On June 14, 2019, al-Burhan visited Asmara and met with Isaias Afwerki. On July 3, 2019, Lt General Mohammed Hemeti visited Asmara and met Isaias Afwerki. And insiders informed that Isaias has an advise to the Chairman of the TMC and his deputy: “don’t be intimidated by the threats of the toothless UN, EU, or AU organizations, we survived the sanctions by ignoring them all.

Isaias doesn’t want the TMC to relinquish power and he would rather have them stay put. And the TMC knows he has a leverage in Sudan—he has been hosting and training Sudanese opposition groups for years and finally helped them negotiate a peace deal with al-Bashir. In recent months, Isaias’ intelligence has convinced the Islamist and other forces in Eastern Sudan to rally behind the TMC.

Is the Sudanese protest in its final days?

The protesters had called for a general protest for Sunday, June 30;  a day earlier, on Saturday, the TMC warned the protesters and opposition groups they will be held responsible for any violence. However, the demonstration which was dubbed “a million person march” went ahead with at least 4 dead and dozens wounded.

The negotiations were stopped after the protests that claimed about 100 lives and many more injured. On July 5, the mediators announced a breakthrough has been reached and details of the power sharing agreement will be announced on Monday, July 8. And since then, many Sudanese have been celebrating, albeit cautiously, the agreement reached between the protesters and the TMC.

Reports indicated that an agreement was reached to form a government of technocrats where the two sides will be represented by 5 members each, then they will jointly elect an 11th member who is expected to be the leaders of the government.

The agreement also stipulates that the TMC will lead the council for 21 months, after which the protesters will lead it for 11 months. However, the investigation of all the massacres since the removal of al-Bashir in April is expected to be a sticking point because the findings will require action against the perpetrators who could be in power. Also, many opposition leaders are concerned whether the agreement will lead to a complete purging of ex-officials of the ousted al-Bashir regime.If that goes well, Sudan will move on the road towards full civilian rule by the end of 2022.

Armed groups?

So far, at least two rebel groups have rejected the agreement: Minni Arco Minnawi of the Darfurian, Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), and AbdelWahid al-Nur a leader of a faction of the SLM that split in 2004 at the height of the Darfur genocide. Minnawi has joined the coalition of the protester while AbdelWahid remains defiant.

Economic development and foreign investments are subject on how successful the new arrangement in Sudan will clean the al-Bashir regime. Also, on how successfully Sudan will resolve the years of unrest in Darfur and Kordufan and other places.

Sudan has been in an Internet blackout since June 10, but some smuggled footage shows the brutality against civilians by the Rapid Support Forces (RSS) is continuing. It was reported that while the meeting between the TMC and protesters was going on, the RSF broke into the opposition offices in Khartoum and mishandled those who were there.

According to a source, “Even the Saudi and UAE sponsors had to the warn the TMC to stop the brutality” because the people perceive the two countries are corrupting the TMC by channeling funds and encouraging them to stay in control.

About Awate Team

The PENCIL is's editorial and it reflects the combined opinions of the Awate Team and not the individual opinion of team members.

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  • Abdulhafiz Yassin

    Dear Awate team:-
    Please check the factuality of some of the points you raise in your report:
    “…atleast two rebel groups have rejected the agreement…Minni Arco Minawi and Abdulwahid Alnur…”
    Yes Abdelwahid has opposed the agreement;but not Arco Minawi.

    • Saleh Johar

      Dear Abdulhafiz,
      This time you need check what’s written. The following sentence in the article states :” Minnawi has joined the coalition of the protester while AbdelWahid remains defiant.”

      Thanks for the note.

  • Brhan

    Hi Awate,

    Thank you for glancing westwards , ( there was a lot to southwards recently in the website)

    Sudan saw compromise from both the military and the civil society. That in it self is good. The next step is elections and electing a civil gov’t. Medniya مدنية Civil gov’t was the slogan of the recent Sudanese uprising and now the work is towards that.

    Our neighbors southwards and westwards, will go to the polls.

    Wishing them a peaceful ones!

  • Nitricc

    Hi All; I am very surprised about Ethiopians in Israel. The Ferocity of the Ethiopians on this current protest. I mean they are taking to the Israelis in their face. Okay Ethiopians, I see you got some kahunas, I like that. I wonder who is more racist and xenophobic, the Arabs or the Israelis to ward Africans.

    • Brhan

      Dear Nitricc,
      “I wonder who is more racist , the Arabs or the Israelis to ward Africans”
      Are you in the US thus afraid not to include Whites?

      • Nitricc

        Hey Brhan: I don’t think it is the same way in the US. The whites in the US discriminate conditionally. If you earn your worth, they will respect you. If not, they throw you with the rest. As always, if you are a black person in the US, then when the white person run two miles, then you the black person run three miles. The same thing academically. Just beat them and you will get their respect. So, it is kind of different. al least the way I see and my experience.

        • Brhan

          Hi Nitricc
          Your problem is you generalize.
          Can you quote a reference to ” The whites in the US discriminate conditionally”
          I am sorry I can’t help you to be a mature commentator more than this !

          • Nitricc

            Hi Brhan; I don’t know if you are blind or you can’t read but I said

            at least the way I see and my experience.

            I personally never experienced racism or discrimination.

    • Teodros Alem

      Selam Nitricc
      1, the ethiopian in Israel(felasha) were victims of racism when they were in ethiopia than right now in Israel. they weren’t even allowed to communicate or contact with other people at the time of before “derg”.
      2, racism is more of individual things. i don’t have life experience with Israel people, so i can’t say anything about them but there might be racist Arab individuals but i don’t think arabs r racist as a society.
      3, for me, inferior confused blacks(including “habesha”) r the most hateful and racist..

      • Nitricc

        for me, inferior, backward,confused blacks(including “habesha”) r the most hateful and racist.. take a look at ethiopia, eritrea, somalia poltics. And take a look at south africa xenophobia attack against other Africans.

        Hi Teddy; whattttt? Habesha are racist? I am not sure if I got it. you must explain. How is it possible for Habesha to be racist? You know they are from Africa, right?

        • Teodros Alem

 racism means discrimination and hating directed against someone of different races, village, religion and so on.

          • Nitricc

            Hey Teddy; I am discombobulated!!! How is it possible a black person to be racist against anther black person? Even the word implies that Race and Racism, meaning in order to be a racist, one must be different skin of color than yours. I can understand regarding religion but the rest is confusing. I am not saying you are wrong or disputing your point but I just can’t believe and I really don’t know it existed.

          • Teodros Alem

            Selam Nitricc
            Israel,arabs considered Caucasian (white) race but u see them complaining racism attack to each other and from other Caucasian.
            like i said For me racism means discriminating someone simply because of his precived race, geography, religion and so on. actually that is the concept of racism in ethiopia where i am from.
            u can call it tribalism or racism but it is all the same.
            what r u gonna call xenophobia attack in South africa and elsewhere?

  • mokie berhe

    Salam all. Iran situation heating up is causing UAE troops to be withdrawn from Assab. Over the past week, the UAE has significantly reduced its footprint in Assab with heavy outbound movement today. A spin of the spoon will again make a change in the position jockeying re Assab and Massawa.

    • Simon Kaleab

      Selam mokie,

      It is sad to see the official end of Iran under USA heavy hammering.

      I hope it is only Big Talk on Iran’s part. I bet if one of the clerics breaks wind too loud during a prayer session half the congregation would be stomped to death running for bomb shelters.

      I think, the USA should blast email the Iranian government with nude pictures of Hillary Clinton. They’ll either go blind, become impotent, or grasp their chests and
      fall over dead.

      • mokie berhe

        Salam Simon Kaleab. Many thanks for the good laugh! I needed it today. Yeah, one can understand why Bill did what he did😊

      • Blink

        Dear Simon
        That’s it, these long bearded men will run away and poor kids will die for their lousy project. That Hillary picture thing . Hilary the evil is erased from the current political game , good for most people .

        • cool

          helllary is much better than this mad dog, i would not hire him in my tea room, let alone to see him as the president of the most powerful nation on earth

          • Blink

            Dear cool
            I doubt that she is better than trump . She is an evil faced loser, she destroyed Libya and she was all out for Iraq war . She simply is an apologist for the ultra left wing liberals . She would have exerted her horses against Russia and also she would not grow the economy due to her expensive projects and her entitlement spending would be a burden for the people. She would have also burned some African countries as well as some ME once .

            Say what ever you want about trump lousy politics, he is simply doing great by not starting war . Obama got prizes he doesn’t deserve. Obama was against Africa and ME .Obama was a bad President who burned the color tag political capital to the tunnel . He was killing people by drones , He was a deportation in chief , he did not contribute to the growth of 3rd world , he was less than Bush when it comes to humanitarian aid like the Maleria and AIDS as well as other issues . Obama was simply a duster for Bush and wall street mistakes in 2008 financial mistakes.

        • Brhan

          Hi Blink,
          Well do not forget about the Nancy Pelosi , the angel , Elhan Omer etc….

          • Blink

            Dear Brhan
            Well , as for as the senate majority leader is mich the smug , there is nothing Elhan and polsi can do . I believe the Democratic Party was simply unable to battle Trump twitter game . I don’t know how Elhan will be elected in the next election if she didn’t know how to keep her political capital grow .

          • Brhan

            Dear Blink
            There is not going to be war with Iran ( the long bearded men) with out the Senate, said so Pelosi.

      • Brhan

        Hi Simon,

    • Brhan

      Hi Mokie,
      The UAE is pulling because the Yemeni people resistance is tough. The Yemeni crisis will only be solved through political means.
      War/no-war against Iran won’t solve the Yemeni crisis simply because it is internal problem.

  • mokie berhe

    Salam all. Quite a bit of tension in Asmara these days as there is a movement by grade 11 complete students who are indicating that they will refuse to attend Sawa; related leaflets have been spread all over Asmara the past few days. Related disturbances now occurring in pockets of the city.

    • Berhe Y

      Dear mokie berhe,

      Now be careful, they will accuse the Catholic Church nuns / nurses for printing and organizing these.

      Little did they know, all the people who work in government offices including police / security are fed up with “Aykesernanb” and “Hgus FunchiH of IA” at millinium stadium.


    • Peace!

      Hi Mokie,

      Hopefully such bold efforts will lead into breaking the fear and ultimately spreads throughout the country to bring the gross brutality to an end. My close friend who visited Asmara recently told me, the fear imposed on our people is sad and unbelievable at the same time to the extent nowadays people have to wake up early in the morning to check for Y’akil, civil disobedience wall sign, on their wall because if found they are subjected to sever punishment or whip it out before sunrise. And he goes the regime is rounding up livestock and forcing owners to accept 30 nakfa/kg.

      I asked him if he has new jokes form Asmara. He goes ohhh check this one…. You know people are too terrified to use the word Y’akil even in regular conversation, nowadays when one sobs to morn his loved ones at enda Hazen, the typical word to comfort them used to be Y’akil Y’akil Y’akil, and now that word is replaced with Basta Basta Basta. 😂😂


      • Berhe Y

        Hi Peace,

        Thank you for the laugh, that was good one.

        I think for these signs to go up constantly, there must be some inside job who are operating from the government (police or security).

        And if that’s the case, which I think it is, for it to last this long and very hard to crack, then IA will crumble soon. We need the security, police and millitary to stand with the people,and isolate the “Aykesernan Group”.


      • Desbele

        Hi Peace,

        Shop/store owners were forced to take off signs of protest if posted on poles/notice boards/phone booths around their shops. I know a friend once punished for not doing so early morning. This is back in 2013. There were rare occasions of protest signs.
        It is now on walls and too many i hope it would be a futile desperate effort for the regime to cope up punishing the whole people. Once these movements get momentum and critical mass it would be on the wall of police stations that we might witness YIAKL and alas the end of our people’s slavery. Indeed ZUR FENKIL!

  • Ismail AA

    Selam AT and all,

    Pretty helpful background information, coupled by an array of external meddlers. The proxy spoiler next door to the east of Sudan has got a mission on behalf of his funders. Although the Saudis and the Emratis do have direct access to the Sudanese military council, the services of the despot will be limited to annoyance and disrupting the AU-Ethiopian mediation mission. As this pencil edition has mentioned, Eritrea’s despot has local smaller proxies that he can reactivate as long he gets funds from his Gulf sponors.
    An intetesting point here will be how he will be able to operate stepping over the efforts the Ethiopians have been trying to put up to find common ground between the civilians and the military on premises that can promote process of transition to democratic rule.
    The AU and the neighbouring countries save the regime in Eritrea are aware how collapse of order in Sudan will affect the entire region. It will worsen the already bad conditions in the region starting from South Sudan through Ethiopi’s north-western and north that share frontiers with the Sudan. Of course Eritrea and its inhabitants will endure direct impact. But who is there to shield them and care for their interests?

    • Hameed Al-Arabi

      Ahlan Ustaz Ismael,

      All are in one camp with Isaias – whether the military or the change forces. Presently, the Sudanese have just moved from the frying pan to the fire. Sadly, the Sudanese have to go a long way to be liberated and develop.

      The turning of Sudan into a failed nation what most frightens Isaias.


      • Ismail AA

        Hayak Allah ustaz Hameed,

        What you have noted seems to be the case, unfortunately. The forces of change appear to have wasted a lot of time. The military played the game advantageously and gained time. The fractious condition of the forces of change served them well. It is one thing to be able to put millions on the streets, it is quite challenging feat to harness their impact to political platform that leads to seizure of power. It pains o see the blood of martyrs being squandered and doors open to meddlers like the despot in Eritrea.

        • Hameed Al-Arabi

          Ahlan Ustaz Ismael,

          Any regime praised by the West and the axis of evil, then we have to be sure that regime is on the wrong side of history. The West and the axis of evil do not want democracy and development for the crawling countries, therefore they support corrupted regimes.


          • Ismail AA

            Hayak Allah ustaz Hameed,

            Your comment reminded me of a story I heard from the late Hassanein Haikal of Egypt. Once he was on a mission to the UAS. When he returned back and while briefing the President Nasser, he told him that his US interlucators had a lot of praise for him. Nasser retorted to him and told him that if the Americans praised him it meant that he had made an error some where. You have in incidentally noted the same thing in the case of the fluid situation in the Sudan.

          • Brhan

            أستاذ إسماعيل
            UAS , you mean USA

          • Ismail AA

            Hayak Allah Brhan,
            Yes indeed; sorry, it was an error. Thank you very much for alerting me.