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Analysis: Sudan’s military leaders face isolation after coup

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Analysis: Sudan’s military leaders face isolation after coup

Sudan’s military leadership could face isolation at home and abroad if it tries to tighten its grip after seizing power in the face of opposition from a sophisticated protest movement and from Western states that had invested in a democratic transition, analysts and diplomats say.

Lacking a political base inside Sudan and with uncertain prospects of support from Gulf states and Egypt, the military has begun to draw on loyalists from the regime of former leader Omar al-Bashir, toppled in 2019 after a popular uprising.

The coup on Oct. 25 drew swift condemnation from Western countries including the United States, which had been working closely with the dissolved transitional government to stabilise Sudan after decades of isolation under Bashir.

The general who led the takeover, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, promised to name a government but has yet to do so as mediation efforts involving Sudanese political figures and the United Nations continue against a backdrop of strikes and protests.

Mediation has focused on finding a way for ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to form a new cabinet of technocrats.

Hamdok, an economist, is respected by pro-democracy protesters and was permitted to return home under guard a day after the coup.

But Hamdok resisted pressure to dissolve his government before the coup, and since the takeover has indicated he will not negotiate on a future government unless the army commits to fully restoring the military-civilian power sharing system put in place after Bashir fell.

“Burhan doesn’t have a clean path to form a government in the way that he wanted,” said one diplomatic source.

Meanwhile, the military has been appointing figures associated with the Bashir era to positions in the state media and foreign ministry, and moving to take control of key institutions including the judiciary, said activists, analysts, and diplomats.

If the military rejects compromise, it could run the country on cash flows from gold sales and try create “alternative facts” through its control of state media and through social media campaigns, said Suliman Baldo of The Sentry, an investigative and policy group based in Washington DC.

But it will have to contend with a savvy and resilient pro-democracy street movement that has mobilised repeatedly since start of the uprising against Bashir nearly three years ago.

The protest movement has the stamina to wear down the military through scheduled rounds of disobedience and more mass marches, said Mohamed Alasbat, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the main activist coalition.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets on Oct. 21, four days before the coup, to protest against the prospect of a military takeover, and similar numbers returned on Saturday.

A campaign of civil disobedience by a wide range of civilian groups as well as protests and security measures to counter them have brought Khartoum to a near standstill over the past week.

Neighbourhood committees organised Saturday’s demonstrations in greater Khartoum despite an almost total blackout on mobile phone and internet coverage and the closure of strategic sites, bridges, and roads by security forces.

Activists handed out printed fliers and went door to door to drum up support.

The protest movement “will end up eroding whatever system he (Burhan) is trying to put in place. This is the real risk for him and that’s why I think he will try to target it very aggressively,” said Baldo.

Foreign states may balk at the unrest this could trigger, and Washington will want to prevent any cross-border spillover, including to conflict-torn Ethiopia, he added.

The military takeover has created uncertainty around a partial peace deal that transitional authorities had signed with Sudanese rebel groups last year, with two major armed groups in Darfur and the south rejecting the coup.

The U.S. has tried to exert pressure by saying it will withhold $700 million in economic assistance and that Sudan will be unable to secure tens of billions of dollars in debt relief as long as the military pursues unilateral control.

The World Bank, a key source of development financing whose president visited Khartoum one month ago, has also suspended disbursements.

Internal splits within Sudan’s sprawling military apparatus, which developed its commercial interests under Bashir and includes the powerful, paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, are another risk for the army leadership.

In an indication of possible confusion over its strategy, the former head of Bashir’s ruling party was freed from jail on Sunday only to be rearrested on Monday.

Burhan and his backers “don’t have the capacity or the cohesion among themselves to be able to mount the sort of intensive crackdown that could make it work,” said Alex de Waal, a Sudan expert and head of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University.

Regional powers such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt were no friends of Bashir’s Islamist government.

They would appear to have little to gain by backing military rule in Sudan, de Waal said.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE “don’t have deep enough pockets to bail Sudan out of the hole that it’s in, so the real leverage lies with the U.S. and the World bank and others.

And with the U.S. and Western governments having taken a strong stand, Burhan doesn’t have much to play with.”

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Ayade orders recruitment into Cross River civil service

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Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River has ordered immediate recruitment into the state civil service to fill the vacuum that may occur due to workers’ retirements.

The new Head of Service (HoS), Mr Timothy Akwaji, disclosed this on Wednesday during his maiden meeting with permanent secretaries on Wednesday in Calabar.

Akwaji said the creation of Akwa Ibom from Cross River in 1987 caused a mass exodus of civil servants to the new state, leading to mass recruitment by the state government to fill the attendant vacant positions.

“Most of these workers will be exiting the service, having completed their mandatory 35 years in service and this may create a bureaucratic vacuum if there is no mentoring of those who may be left behind to keep the service running.

“The governor has, therefore, given approval for the recruitment of workers to cushion the effect of the impending mass retirement from the state civil service.” NAN quoted him as saying.

The Head of Service stressed the need for the permanent secretaries to mentor their subordinates, as directors and for other civil servants to look up to them as role models.

He said mentorship in the service has become necessary to enable civil servants discharge their responsibilities effectively.

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Buhari assures Nigerians price of rice, other food Items to crash soons

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President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that prices of food items, especially rice will soon come down.

The president, who gave the assurance on Tuesday, during the official unveiling of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)/Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) Rice Paddy Pyramids in Abuja, urged Nigerians to exercise some patience, saying the growing food production in the country, especially expansion in rice farming would eventually bring down prices of food, making it more affordable for all.

This was just as the Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, revealed that following the successes recorded in the implementation of the CBN-led Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), the country had been able to significantly reduce rice importation from Thailand by over 99.83 per cent within the past seven years.

But reacting to yesterday’s unveiling, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Tuesday mocked the APC and its governments, describing it as another shameless media stunt to again beguile Nigerians ahead of 2023 elections.

According to the leading opposition political party, the unveiling of bogus rice pyramids in Abuja, was nothing but, “pyramids of lies.”

However, Buhari’s assurance to Nigerians on cheaper food items came on a day he personally presented awards to Emefiele and five other state governors for their contributions to the development of agriculture in the country.

The state chief executives included Governors of Ekiti, Mr. Kayode Fayemi; Kebbi, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu; Cross River, Prof. Ben Ayade; Ebonyi, Mr. David Umahi, and Jigawa, Alhaji Abubakar Badaru.

The president said: “Today rice production in Nigeria has increased to over 7.5 million metric tons annually. Prior to the introduction of APB, the average production in Nigeria between 1999 to 2015 was less than four metric tons annually.

“I am aware that the bags of paddy will be moving straight from here to rice milling plants across Nigeria, which lead to the release of processed rice to the markets by the rice millers. The measure will aid our efforts at reducing the price of rice in Nigeria.

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Mompha released on N200m bail

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Justice Mojisola Dada of the Ikeja Special Offences Court has granted Instagram celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, bail of N200 million.

Mompha was rearrested last week Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and was first re-arraigned in court last Wednesday, January 14.

While granting his bail application today January 18, the court requested he provides two sureties, one of which must own a property valued at N100 million within its jurisdiction.

Mompha and his company, Ismalob Global Investment Limited, are standing trial on an amended 22-count charge bordering on cyber fraud and money laundering to the tune of N32.9bn brought against him by the EFCC.

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