CW 43/2021: Military in Power
Press Review 22 October 2021 to 29 October 2021

Military coup in Sudan

Since the military took control last Monday and Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok as well as leading party politicians and cabinet members were arrested by soldiers, events in Sudan have been tumultuous. The Ministry of Information, which apparently was not yet under military control at the time of Prime Minister Hamdok’s arrest, called on the population to resist. Thousands of people responded to this call and demonstrated in the streets of Khartoum and other major cities. Tires were set on fire and barriers were breached, while military forces positioned themselves in public spaces and also fired on demonstrators. According to media reports, seven people have been killed and 140 injured in these clashes so far. There were also massive restrictions on the country’s infrastructure. International air traffic was suspended and internet and telephone networks were temporarily down. The military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, stated that the takeover was necessary to prevent a civil war and rejected accusations of a coup. He also declared a state of emergency in the country and announced the dissolution of the Sovereign Council, which has been overseeing the transition to democracy. According to al-Burhan, this process is to continue under the leadership of the military until a transfer of power to an elected government is possible. A new transitional government made up of experts is to be appointed and elections scheduled for July 2023 are supposed to still take place. However, observers doubt the military’s intentions and suspect that the old guard is trying to protect its own power and economic interests behind the coup. Serious tensions had already existed for weeks between the military and civilians in the transitional government. Supporters of the former long-term ruler Omar al-Bashir are also said to have attempted to systematically weaken the government. Internationally, the military coup was strongly condemned. The African Union (AU) said Wednesday that Sudan would be suspended from all activities. The World Bank as well as the U.S. also stopped their financial aid. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council was only able to agree on a joint statement after days of negotiations, but on Thursday called for the reinstatement of the civilian-led government under Abdullah Hamdok. The latter has since been returned to his home, but it is unclear whether he is under house arrest. Nationwide protests against the military are expected over the weekend.

 

 

Mali expels ECOWAS envoy

In Mali, a government statement ordered ECOWAS Representative Hamidou Boly on Monday to leave the West African country within 72 hours. The exact reasons for the expulsion are unclear. The foreign ministry of Mali’s transitional government officially stated only that the special envoy had not behaved in accordance with his status and must therefore leave the country immediately. On local television, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop reportedly accused the special envoy of being in contact with groups that would endanger the country’s transition. The West African Economic Community (ECOWAS) had previously repeatedly urged Mali’s transitional government to keep its promise to hold democratic elections by Feb. 27, 2022, thus returning power to civilians. Should this deadline pass, the economic bloc would have to impose sanctions. Moreover, Boly’s expulsion came just one day after a U.N. Security Council delegation visited Mali and also urged that the elections be held on schedule. Vice President of Mali’s transitional parliament Issa Kaou N’Djim voiced criticism over the expulsion. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested Tuesday for making inflammatory remarks. Meanwhile, ECOWAS on Thursday deplored Mali’s “extreme” reaction and stressed it would continue to press for the elections to be held. Mali has been suspended from both ECOWAS and the AU since a second coup in nine months. Following political unrest last year, the military, led by Colonel Assimi Goita, initially couped against then-President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020. Under pressure from sanctions, a transitional civilian government was installed by the military. However, in late May 2021, the military couped again and Colonel Goita was appointed interim president. Since then, both the United Nations (UN) and ECOWAS have been pushing for an electoral process to form a civilian government. However, the interim government announced that it would only set a specific election date in December of this year, following a “Forum of Nations on Reconstruction.”

 

In other news

Last Saturday, the Great Lakes Friendship Tournament started for the first time in Goma in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Athletes from five countries from the Great Lakes region competed in the two-day karate competition. Initiated by Congolese President and current Chairman of the African Union (AU) Félix Tshisekedi, the aim of the competition was to promote peace and unity in the region plagued by violence and terrorism through the sport of karate and friendly competition. Ugandan athlete Martin Emoko called on countries such as Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania to follow the DRC’s example and use sporting events to promote a more peaceful and stable region.

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