TRENDS Research and Advisory Center has published a paper titled “Eastern Sudan Protests and the Repercussions of the October 25 Decisions: Causes, Interactions and Outcomes”. The paper examines and analyzes the protests in eastern Sudan and the political and economic pressures they have created for the transitional path in Sudan.

Written by Basma Saad, Researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, the paper discusses the factors that led to the protests in eastern Sudan. It also examines what the protesters did to ensure effective impact, along with possible trajectories of the crisis in eastern Sudan following the protests.

Saad attempts to explain the reasons behind the protests in eastern Sudan by the Supreme Council of the Beja Tribes Chiefs and Independent Clans Leaders, led by Muhammad Al-Amin Turk, as well as the protest methods used by the Council and the possible turns the crisis may take.

According to the paper, due to the long duration of the protest, and in light of the strategic importance of the eastern Sudan region, the protests created political and economic pressures on the country that threatened and still threaten the transitional path in Sudan. The protests also revealed the extent of the political gap between civil and military partners in the transitional government.

These conditions resulted, on October 25, 2021, in the President of the Transitional Sovereign Council in Sudan, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, taking the decision to dissolve the Transitional Sovereign Council and Transitional Cabinet and declare a state of emergency, in a move that Al-Burhan described as a “correction of the transitional path”.

Leader of the eastern Sudan protesters, Muhammad Al-Amin Turk, declared support for the decisions of October 25, freezing the protests and reopening ports and roads on November 1, 2021, for a period of one month to facilitate the formation of a new government in light of the difficult and exceptional circumstances the country was going through.

The paper touches on the reactions of eastern Sudan protesters, led by Muhammad Al-Amin Turk, to political developments in Sudan, including the October 25 decisions to dissolve the Transitional Council and the agreement of Al-Burhan and Hamdok to restore the transitional political path.

The factors behind the decision of the Supreme Council of the Beja Tribes Chiefs and Independent Clans Leaders to escalate the protests are also examined, including the weak connection between the center and the peripheries and the consequent marginalization, in addition to the ethnic diversity factor. The study notes that the eastern Sudan crisis is an example of the repercussions of the failure of successive Sudanese governments to manage ethnic diversity in Sudan.

As for the protest methods used by the Supreme Council of the Beja Tribes Chiefs and Independent Clans Leaders, the study states that the Council was able to turn the eastern Sudan region into a pressure force through political and economic pressures and civil disobedience, which paralyzed the economy and isolated the region from the capital, Khartoum. There is also the failed coup attempt, in which supporters of Muhammad Al-Amin Turk are accused of participating.

In her paper, Saad explores the possible future scenarios of the crisis in eastern Sudan, predicting that the deal under which Hamdok returned as transitional prime minister will eventually collapse and that protests will resume.

The paper concludes that protestors in eastern Sudan are waiting to see how their region will benefit from the political agreement between the President of the Military Council, Al-Burhan, and the transitional prime minister, Abdullah Hamdok. While the transitional government partners are busy consolidating pillars of the transitional path and rearranging the Sudanese political scene, they need to initiate the negotiation process with protesters in eastern Sudan to signal the government’s desire to reach a satisfactory settlement of the crisis once and for all.

29 December 2021