It won’t take long before the military in Sudan takes control again. The decision to reinstate the prime minister Abdalla Hamdok who was ousted a few weeks ago is a short-term way of relieving international condemnation of the coup.
The military-civilian partnership that had been in place prior to the coup was a fragile government structure and the political decision-making process was fractured.
The military power grab exacerbated the situation.
Each side has always eyed the other with distrust. Both parties indulged in a bitter marriage that did not last long, and the aim of cementing much needed policy changes to install a functioning democratic government floundered.
The idea that Sudan could move forward after decades of political turmoil, repression and a failing economy was in hindsight a pipe dream.
Whatever little confidence that existed for the potential of creating a successful partnership ruptured. It’s become hard to envisage any kind of solution to the crisis.
Yes, the Prime Minister has been reinstalled, but for how long?
When any country’s military pursues a coup, the idea of joining hands with other partners in running the affairs of that state is anathema to it.
Putting the coup to one side the power-sharing formula has been self-defeating. Over two years the civilian forces have failed to build a political agenda that defines the future vision of the country.
Both the military and the civilian coalition working under the umbrella of the “Sovereign Council” agreed to postpone representative elections until 2023.
Three years in transition for a people thirsty for democracy is too long. The election date should have been arranged to happen sooner.
An early election that can happen immediately will redefine the degree of representation of the different political parties in the country.
The formation of a cabinet of independent technocrats as soon as possible is necessary to introduce change to the whole political process.
This is unlikely to happen. When the military wants to take over again it will.
In addition to the internal factors that have contributed to how the events unfolded in Sudan, in an international context the US, Europe, the Arab League, the African Union and the UN all condemned the coup.
Notably Russia refrained, and attributed the situation to a natural political course built on a system “imposed” on Sudan by the West, according to Moscow’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.
Sudan’s strategic geographic importance will keep tensions running high between global powerhouses trying to position themselves as friends of the country.
After the Revolution of 2019 that ousted al-Bashir’s three-decade long reign, Moscow signed two agreements with Khartoum. One of them included the construction of a Russian naval base in Sudan, a much-needed headquarters for Moscow’s Africa sphere of influence.
With the military takeover, Russia hoped the base would come online quicker with no delays.
In contrast to the growing political and economic race between Washington and Beijing on African soil, this was Moscow’s trump card. A newly built naval base in the heart of the continent and in one of its largest countries will extend Russia’s global prominence.
Russia’s aspirations for Sudan started to take shape immediately after the 2019 revolution. Russian private military companies (PMCs) could have had an enormous chance of widening the scope of their work in the country - had Khartoum’s military kept their grip and refrained from reinstating Hamdok.
The US takes the opposite view. The Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman said that: “Any changes to the transitional government by force puts at risk US assistance.”
He also said that neither side (military and civilian) can sideline the other, with both playing important roles in the country’s transition.
Washington has put on hold $700 million of funding dedicated for Sudan but has maintained humanitarian support for the sake of the Sudanese people.
Reinstating the Prime Minister has deescalated the tensions between all the different players, but this is temporary.
In the grand scheme of things, the international struggle for Sudan is in its infancy. The outcome will become a reflection of how the world powers will clash or collaborate.
This is the trauma faced by another third world country acting as a pawn for the world’s most powerful nations.