The ten days of protests in Sudan beginning September 23, 2013 were the largest in the country since the installation of the military government of Omar al-Bashir in 1989. As Middle East Report editor Khalid Mustafa Medani explains in an interview with KPFA, unlike the youth-led protests of 2011 and 2012, the movement this September marked a resurgence of organizing across class, region and generation, incorporating middle-class professionals, youth and the urban poor.
Sudan’s economic crisis—precipitated by the 2011 secession of South Sudan and 60 percent reduction of state revenues from the oil fields there—has shifted the political balance in Khartoum. Cuts to public services and 40 percent inflation have begun to impoverish a middle class that sat out the protests over the past two years.
Though inspired by bread-and-butter issues, the economic demands of the protest movement are linked to the political crisis in the country: widespread (and widely known) corruption, the regime’s continued war-making in the west, south and east and its attempt to maintain pre-partition levels of funding for the military and security services. The demonstrations have also caused splits within the ruling National Congress Party over economic policy and the violence deployed against protesters. Amnesty International reports that 210 people were killed during the protests in Khartoum alone, most by gunshot wounds.
Despite the end of the mass protests, oppositional politics in Sudan has gained important ground. New bridges built between youth activists, unions and other civil society groups and the reemergence of women as leaders in political and activist networks are promising developments in the ongoing struggle for “freedom, peace and justice.”