Workers' Voice mailing list
December 28, 2021
by Pete Brown, Detroit Workers’ Voice
Struggle against military domination of the government in Sudan continues as a very large, militant demonstration took place on Sunday, December 19th. This was three years after the mass protests that broke out on December 19, 2018, and eventually led to the fall of the 30-year military dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, but left in its place a joint military-civilian transitional government.
The military seized overall power again in a coup on October 25th this year, following an unsuccessful coup attempt the month before. Facing bitter mass protests, the military brokered a deal with Abdallah Hamdok to give a civilian face to their coup by reinstating him as Prime Minister. Organizers of the Dec. 19th demonstration wanted to make it plain they do not regard the revolution as finished, and they reject Prime Minister Hamdok’s agreement to head a military-dominated government. Hamdok has been trying to cobble together a civilian cabinet of technocrats, but most of those he chooses refuse to serve. Hamdok is becoming more and more isolated as the main civilian political force, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), has condemned his deal with the military.
Demonstrators on December 19th were organized by local resistance committees (RCs). Tens of thousands of people joined different lines of march in Omdurman, the largest city in Sudan, which lies just across the Nile River from the capital, Khartoum. Demonstrators headed for bridges across the Nile but came up against barricades erected by police and security forces. Undeterred, the demonstrators forced their way through the barricades and streamed into Khartoum. (1) Eventually they fought their way into the main central square and met up with demonstrators from the capital. The crowd’s numbers swelled to hundreds of thousands. (2) Their goal was to launch an ongoing sit-in around the presidential palace.
Demonstrators were able to surround the presidential palace in the late afternoon as security forces reorganized and prepared another attack. This attack was launched after sunset, as it became dark. Massive volleys of tear gas and stun grenades, together with some live fire, forced the demonstrators to give up their sit-in. One person was killed and over 300 injured. (3) Among those arrested, some 13 women at least were raped by security personnel. This has led to further protests; on December 23rd some hundreds of women protested against the rapes in Khartoum. (4)
Then again on Saturday, December 25, demonstrators forced their way
to the presidential palace in Khartoum and crowded the streets of some
other cities as well. It was the 10th major demonstration in two
months. The Sudanese people refuse to be intimidated, and they won’t
accept military rule, whether open or hidden. (5)
Imperialist powers and the United Nations leaders are beginning to realize that Hamdok’s deal with the military is not going to work. Hamdok himself has been talking about resigning. Reportedly he is depressed by his isolation, the fact that he can’t get other civilians to work with him, and that FFC, the civilian political forces that used to support him, have now turned against him. (6) President Biden’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, has been meeting with the military leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Hamdok, trying to encourage them to come together. (7) But Hamdok is frustrated that he can’t do anything without the military’s approval. Western nations are uniformly denouncing the military’s violence, but they still maintain support for the regime while trying to put a civilian face on it.
Well, what did they expect? Sudan’s military has been organizing genocidal massacres and rapes for many years. Al-Burhan’s second in command, “Hemeti”, also commands the Rapid Support Force, which carried out the notorious July Massacre in 2019 that killed hundreds of protesters and raped scores of women. One reason the military carried out the October 25th coup this year was their refusal of the FFC’s demand for accountability, that military officers should face arrest and trial for their crimes. They even refuse to hand over Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court, despite the mountain of evidence against al-Bashir for organizing genocide in Darfur (western Sudan). U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken gave support to the generals by saying their deal with Hamdok was “an encouraging first step,” but the fascist military leaders are not going to be tamed by requests to “take it easy.” Besides avoiding accountability for their crimes, the generals have economic interests to protect: the military owns and controls a major share of Sudan’s economy. (8)
It’s not as if Hamdok and his bourgeois administrators provided much of an alternative. Their idea of economic development is to open up Sudan to international investors by going whole-hog for neo-liberalism. Last May French President Emmanuel Macron organized a conference on Sudan. To encourage investors, leading up to the conference Sudan’s government agreed with the IMF to a program of economic “liberalization”, which included the removal of commodity subsidies. This led to much higher prices for basic goods for the average Sudanese family. Protests against the worsening economic situation broke out in late summer and September. The military was able to steer this discontent against the civilian government leaders, and this helped them pull off the coup of October 25th. (9)
Hamdok’s imperialist supporters are worried that his resignation or
fall may mean instability in the Horn of Africa. But for the working
masses of Sudan, the present situation is unbearable. Hamdok is now
merely a fig leaf for a fascist regime. The people need democracy now,
and this will enable them to better carry through their economic and
(1.) “Demonstrators reach Sudanese presidency despite huge security measures.” Sudan Tribune, 19 December 2021. A sense of the demonstration’s size can be gotten from this Youtube video.
(2.) Khalid Abdelaziz and Nafisa Eltahir, “Sudanese medics say one man shot dead, more than 300 injured in Sunday’s protests,” Reuters, December 20, 2021.
(4.) “Sudan women protest against ‘rape by security forces’,” BBC, 23 Dec 2021. News of the rapes was originally reported by the Sudan Tribune, a local newspaper, in this article: https://sudantribune.com/article226853/. But since then that article has disappeared from their website, since the newspaper is subject to censorship by the military.
(5.) Abdi Latif Dahir, “Anti-Coup Protesters in Sudan Press Their Demand for Return to Civilian Rule”, New York Times, December 25, 2021. Also see https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10228051375609160.
(6.) “Top U.S. lawmakers condemn Sudan’s military for its use of violence.” Alarabiya, December 23, 2021.
(7.) “U.S. Feltman plays down reports about Hamdok’s resignation.” Sudan Tribune, December 23, 2021.
(8.) Alex de Waal, Africa analyst and executive director of the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, “Sudan coup: Why the army is gambling with the future.” BBC, 27 October 2021.
(9.) Opinion article by
Muzan Alneel, Co-founder of the Innovation, Science and Technology
Think-Tank for People-Centred Development in Sudan and Fellow of the
Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP): “Why the Burhan-Hamdok deal will not stabilize Sudan”, Aljazeera, 20 Dec 2021, https. <>
Video: People flood the streets on Dec. 19 as mass protests continue week after week against the Sudanese military coup.
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