Sudan: The people resist the coup

October 29, 2021
sudan october 30 protest poster
Poster promoting an October 30 demonstration in solidarity with the Sudanese people against the coup.

Millions of people remain on the streets of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, and other cities, resisting the coup attempt by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan

Al-Burhan declared a state of emergency on October 25, suspending several articles of the Constitution. The Sovereign Council and the cabinet were dissolved and appointees replaced elected ministers.

Just days before, on October 21, millions of pro-democracy protesters had taken to the streets to demand the complete transfer of power from military to civilian authority.

According to People’s Dispatch “some protesters in Omdurman were injured when the riot police intermittently fired rubber bullets and even live ammunition as the rally marched towards the parliament building, which has remained unused for years as there is no functioning legislature in the country”.

The likelihood of a military takeover attempt was becoming stronger. Al-Burhan addressed officers and soldiers on October 11 saying it was necessary to dissolve the transitional government, ostensibly to make way for a more “inclusive” one.

People’s Dispatch said Burhan’s talk of inclusivity was “an ominous reference to the Islamist forces, ousted with the deposition of the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir”. 

“With evident backing of the army, these forces have joined hands with the former armed rebel groups, which, after the Juba peace agreement post-Bashir, have formed an alliance with the military to share power and sideline the civilian political parties in the transitional government.”

Osman Saeed Abu Kumbal, a member of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) told People’s Dispatch that the so-called political parties in this alliance “only exist on paper, and have no existence on the ground”.

Abu Kumbal said the alliance has been “fronted by the Islamist National Congress Party (NCP) led by the former dictator”. Banned after former dictator al-Bashir’s ouster, “the NCP is no longer in a position to contest for political power in its own name. Calling itself the Forces for Freedom and Change–Founding Platform … this alliance had been holding a parallel sit-in demonstration outside the presidential palace, calling on Burhan to dissolve the government”.

According to Abu Kumbal, the “orchestrated sit-in is widely regarded as an attempt to prepare the ground to legitimise a military takeover.”

The African Union (AU) suspended Sudan’s membership on October 27 “until a civilian-led transition of authority is effectively restored”. It also said it would send a mission to the country “to seek an amicable solution to the current political impasse”.

The United States, Britain and Norway on October 27 expressed deep concern, condemning the military takeover and arrest of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. They called on the security forces to “immediately release those they have unlawfully detained”. 

The BBC reported that the World Bank announced on October 28 it was suspending aid to Sudan and the US has frozen US$700 million in aid funding.

Parvan Kulkarni reported in People’s Dispatch on October 27 that Burhan is expected to announce a new government made up of technocrats appointed by the military elite. However, “[w]hile this government may be announced in the coming hours or days, its ability to impose its authority on the country remains a question, considering the massive number of people on the streets”.

People resist

Since the coup began, Sudanese have been engaged in a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience — including a general strike — protests, sit-ins and neighbourhood blockades.

Kulkarni reported that the Khartoum University Professors Union joined the strike. The Sudanese Pilots Union also declared a “general strike and civil disobedience” and called on “all pilots and workers in the airfield to take to the streets and protect the Sudanese people’s revolution”. 

Doctors, oil workers and bank employees have also joined in, with doctors reportedly refusing to serve at military hospitals.

The critical trade highway connecting Sudan with Egypt — whose authoritarian government is known to be extending support to the Sudanese military — has been blocked, a source told Peoples Dispatch.

The source said: “The security forces are stretched and outnumbered as demonstrations are being staged behind barricades erected by protesters in virtually all neighborhoods in every town and city. On being attacked by the army, protesters disperse, regroup elsewhere and block the roads with torched tires.”

Despite an internet block, protesters are finding ways to post on social media. A nationwide mobilisation is planned for October 30.

After the coup began, thousands of protesters stormed the perimeter of the Sudanese Armed Forces general command building in Khartoum, before the military fired bullets and tear gas.

As at October 27, 14 people had been killed and more than 140 injured.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which played a leading role in the 2019 uprising against the Omar al-Bashir dictatorship, said: “[The coup leaders do not] understand that the December [2019] Revolution is now rooted in the consciousness and will of the Sudanese people, and that the guardian of this revolution are the people who will defeat today’s coup and their struggles will not stop without the transition to a complete civilian rule.

“This coup is a continuation of the Security Forces of [al-Bashir’s] National Congress Party and its militias, which began on 11 April, 2019, with the aim of blocking the path of the December Revolution and aborting it.”

It appealed to resistance committees in all districts and “all revolutionary political, professional, rights defender’s forces in all the cities and villages of Sudan” to occupy and barricade the streets.

It also called on people “to continue all forms of civil disobedience and complete strike until we defeat the coup reaching to what our people deserve under the flags of Freedom, Justice and Peace”.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was kidnapped by a military force after refusing to step aside, has been allowed to return home. However, he remains under heavy guard.

The Sudanese Workers Alliance for the Restoration of Trade Unions (SWARTU) released a statement on October 26 that read, in part: “There is no alternative but to continue the struggle, bring the downfall of the coup, mobilise our masses and achieve the complete demands and aspirations of the December revolution.

“The coup of parasitic capitalism was instigated by the warlord, Hemeti, and Burhan, the al-Bashir Security apparatus, and the rest of the warlords who traffic in the suffering of their people, and the political brokers who come in every colour and shape.

“We ask the working class worldwide to stand in solidarity with the people of Sudan.”

SWARTU called on all its members, “female and male workers, craftswomen/men, wage workers, producers and toilers in the countryside and cities … to engage in civil disobedience and a general strike until the downfall of the counterrevolution” and to “resist all bargains or deals that run contrary to the demands of the revolution”.

SWARTU called on the armed forces, police and armed groups to “abide by their duty to protect their people and align themselves with the cause of the democratic transition”.

In defiance of the state of emergency, people are in the streets at night, chanting:

“Don’t give your back to the soldiers,

The soldiers don't have your back,

Keep your back to the streets,

The streets will never betray you.”

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