Sudan timeline July-September 2021: Political discord escalates, poverty grows, as thousands are displaced by floods, violence
In the third quarter of 2021, despite initial optimism, simmering disputes between the various elements of the transitional government, especially between the civilian and the military components, escalated into an abortive coup attempt, allegedly by supporters of the deposed Al Bashir regime, trying “to abort the civil democratic transition”.
There was also initial optimism as the Sudanese Pound rallied against major international currencies, following positive news of international debt relief and an increased supply of foreign currency in the country. The average Sudanese person, however, is still suffering from the dire economic situation, and about one third of the population is expected to need humanitarian support this year.
The quarter kicked-off with the announcement of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Sudan has successfully reached the Decision Point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Sudan is to benefit from $50 billion in debt relief, significantly reducing the country’s $56 billion foreign liability. The Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) states that the Balance of Trade deficit has been reduced by 25 per cent.
Sudan agreed to set up an ICC office in the country, and draft a law for Sudan to accede to and ratify the 1998 Rome Statute of the ICC. The ICC set the date for the war crimes trial of Darfur janjaweed leader, Ali Kushayb, and the new Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan QC, paid a week-long visit to Sudan.
A milestone was reached when Rebel leader Minni Minawi was inaugurated as Governor of Darfur, however, as the world rejoiced, dozens of people lost their lives and hundreds fled their homes as a result of tribal violence and banditry across Darfur.
In addition to their economic woes, the annual rainy season saw thousands of people affected throughout Sudan’s Nile Basin, as heavy rains, flash floods, and high water saw dozens of people, hundreds of livestock, and entire homes, farms, and entire villages swept away.
In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sudan’s Health Minister called for better precautions as COVID-19 cases rose, however the ministry also announced that vaccines now available in all Sudan states.
Political tensions were highlighted after a group of what Prime Minister Hamdok called “remnants of the former regime to abort the civil democratic transition,” attempted a coup d’état, which was foiled by members of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). In reaction, hundreds of people take to the streets to condemn the coup attempt and call for civilian rule. Convergent FFC factions signed a Declaration of Unity in an attempt to fruitfully continue their cooperation in the government.
The simmering discontent among the Beja leaders in Red Sea state, opposed the terms of the Eastern Sudan Track of the Juba Peace Agreement, blocked import, and export traffic as well as major roads causing considerable economic disruption.
Sudan timeline, July - September 2021
July: Optimism prevails over simmering disputes between the various components of the Sudanese government. The Sudanese Pound rallies following news of international debt relief and an increased supply of foreign currency in the country. The average Sudanese, however, is still suffering from the dire economic situation. About one third of the population is expected to need humanitarian support this year. People living in the western and southern parts of the country continue to complain about widespread insecurity.
July 1: The international community welcomes the announcement of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Sudan has successfully reached the Decision Point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. Sudan is to benefit from $50 billion in debt relief, significantly reducing the country’s $56 billion foreign liability.
July 3: Governor Adeeb Abdelrahman confirms that three mass graves have been discovered in Central Darfur, awaiting exhumation. The Singa Criminal Court sentences the former governor of Sennar to two years’ imprisonment for corruption and abuse of power.
July 4: USA, UK, and Norway (Sudan Troika) envoys visit Kauda in South Kordofan to meet representatives of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu). Sudan’s FA Minister and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Volker Perthes, sign the official Status of Mission Agreement for the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) in Khartoum. The Advisor for Christian Affairs to the Minister of Religious Affairs is threatened by armed men in Khartoum because of his cooperation with the Empowerment Removal Committee (ERC*) on corrupt practices that were behind the removal of churches in the era of Omar Al Bashir.
July 5: The Transitional Partners Council starts the long-awaited formation of a Legislative Council, with its first session planned for August 17. The council also recommended that all state governors should be relieved. Foreign Minister Maryam El Sadig voices outrage over Ethiopia’s second filling of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
July 6: Politicians and media advocates condemn the Information Crimes Prosecution’s blocking of the website of El Sudani newspaper, as well as more than 30 other websites in the country. The death toll from tribal clashes in Sirba, West Darfur, rises to more than 20.
July 8: At least 12 people were killed during four days of tribal violence in Kereinik and Jebel Moon in West Darfur.
July 9: Former Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb will stand trial for war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
July 10: The joint High Committee for Monitoring the Implementation of the Darfur Track protocol of the Juba Peace Agreement recommends the formation of a committee that includes all parties to the peace process.
July 11: Sudan’s Defence and Security Council adopts measures to address violence in Red Sea state and South Kordofan.
July 14: The Sudanese Pound rallies against major international currencies following positive news of international debt relief and an increased supply of foreign currency in the country.
July 15: The Paris Club creditors group agrees to cancel $14.1 billion in Sudanese debt. More than 14 million Sudanese expected to need relief support in 2021, says the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
July 18: At least five people die in an artillery attack on Sortony camp for the displaced in North Darfur.
July 19: The Sudanese Central Bureau for Statistics reports that the inflation rate for June rose to 412.75 per cent, compared to a rate of 378.79 per cent for May. Sudan’s Health Minister calls for better precautions as COVID-19 cases rise in Khartoum, Port Sudan.
July 20: In messages congratulating Sudanese Muslims on the occasion of Eid El Adha, Sovereignty Council Chairman Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan and PM Abdallah Hamdok appeal for unity in the country to achieve the ideals of the revolution.
July 24: Doctors in Sudan’s Red Sea state call for a lockdown and closure of borders as COVID-19 cases surge.
July 26: Agents of the former National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) stand trial in Sudan for murder, crimes against humanity.
July 28: Sudan’s Minister of Water Resources underlines the necessity for Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia to reach a binding agreement regarding the filling of the GERD dam.
July 29: The SPLM-N El Hilu in South Kordofan and the Sudan Liberation Movement in Darfur, led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW), stipulate that secularism and pluralism are essential to lasting peace in Sudan. French agrotechnical specialists to help mechanise the El Gezira Scheme. The Minister of Finance briefs EU ambassadors on the economic situation in Sudan and the Samarat family support programme.
July 31: Hundreds of people fled their villages in Tawila, North Darfur, yesterday and today, following attacks by groups of gunmen, caused by disputes over the use of agricultural land.
August: Signs of discord resurface between the military and civilian members of the government about the course of the revolution. Sudan agrees to set up an ICC office in the country. Rebel leader Minni Minawi is appointed Governor of Darfur. Violent incidents continue to be reported from Darfur and South Kordofan. Journalists in the country complain about continued harassment.
August 3: The Council of Ministers pass a draft law for Sudan to accede to and ratify the 1998 Rome Statute of the ICC. According to visiting USAID chief, a unified Sudanese army is the ‘key to stability’. Attacks on North Darfur villages continue, leave three people dead.
August 5: Six RSF militiamen sentenced to death for the murder of six people, including secondary school students, in El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan, two years ago. The Sudanese Security and Defence Council decides on the formation of a joint force to combat “negative security phenomena” within the military.
August 7: Sudan’s Water Ministry expands flood warnings as Nile levels surge.
August 10: Rebel leader Minni Minawi is inaugurated as Governor of Darfur. The Faisal Islamic Bank launches Mastercard payment services in Sudan. Attacks on villages in Tawila, North Darfur, continue for the second week. Government forces have reportedly been withdrawn.
August 11: PM Hamdok receives ICC prosecutor, pledges Sudan’s support for the international court.
August 12: Sudan to establish gold and minerals bourse. According to OCHA 225,685 Sudanese have been displaced by violence in the country since January. The export of livestock is growing despite challenges.
August 13: The ICC in the Hague will establish an office in Sudan.
August 15: FM Hamdok announces a mechanism ‘to protect Sudan’s transition to democracy’.
August 16: Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) launches an urgent measles vaccination campaign in Jebel Marra in Darfur.
August 17: Sudan’s inflation rate rose to 422.78 per cent in July.
August 18: Protests erupt in Kadugli and El Fasher against the continuing insecurity in South Kordofan and North Darfur.
August 19: Darfur displaced are willing to return ‘when security and protection are in place’. Increased insecurity in Kassala and South Kordofan sparks protests. The Sovereignty Council calls on the political parties in the country to start preparing for general elections.
August 22: Empowerment Removal Committee uncovers fraud and money laundering operations in 90 bank accounts.
Lawlessness in central Darfur and South Kordofan continues.
August 24: Attacks on North Darfur villages continue. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the willingness of the UN to replace Ethiopian soldiers in the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) by forces from other countries.
August 25: PM Hamdok says that the main goal of his Way Forward Initiative is to unite all revolutionary forces in order to complete the transition to democracy. Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO) calls on the Sudanese government to stop the rampant insecurity in South Kordofan.
August 26: More than 65 Sudanese and international civil society organisations call on the government to transfer former President Omar Al Bashir and the other indicted persons to the ICC. Apart from COVID-19, many Sudanese are suffering from diarrhoea, haemorrhagic fevers, and shortages of medical supplies.
August 28: USAID grants $5.5 million to boost development, democratic transition in Sudan.
August 30: The New York-based African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) calls on the Sudanese authorities to exhume mass graves to identify the victims and give justice to their families. The Sudanese Journalists Network complains about harassment of journalists ‘as frequent as during the Al Bashir era’. Economic expert Sidgi Kaballo attributes the continued deterioration of the economic and living conditions in Sudan to ‘failing government policies‘.
August 31: Two students are shot dead, as Sudanese troops disperse Central Darfur demonstration. Darfur women accuse the Sudanese government of violating the Juba Peace Agreement’s promise of 40 per cent women’s representation in governance. The Ministry of Health announces that COVID-19 vaccines now available in all Sudan states. The school year is to begin on September 20, nearly three weeks later than anticipated, owing to delays in printing books for the intermediate classes.
September: The Sudanese, government and people alike, are plagued by the growing political discord concerning the course of the transitional period. Disputing FFC factions sign a Declaration of Unity in an attempt to fruitfully continue their cooperation in the government. Beja tribesmen in Red Sea state block import and export traffic in protest against the Eastern Sudan Track of the Juba Peace Agreement. In addition, an aborted coup attempt on September 21, causes tensions between the military and civilian members of the government to resurface. The growing poverty in the country leads to increased insecurity in Sudan’s urban areas as well.
September 1: Rebel fighters clash with Sudanese forces in Soba, Khartoum. According to the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), gender-based violence against women by security and military forces continues to be the norm in Sudan.
September 6: The presence of weapons within the camps for the displaced is unacceptable, as the camps are demilitarised zones, says Darfur Governor Minni Minawi.
September 10: According to Sudan’s Ministry of Health and UN agencies, three million Sudanese children suffer from acute malnutrition.
September 13: The Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) states that the Balance of Trade deficit has been reduced by 25 per cent. Rape and gender-based violence form a constant threat for displaced women as North Darfur violence persists. The governor of North Darfur promises protection and aid to newly displaced in Tawila.
September 14: UNITAMS head Volker Perthes tells UN Security Council that more funding is needed for the support of Sudan’s peace process. Darfur Governor Minni Minawi launches an initial joint protection force, which is the nucleus of a larger force to protect the people in Darfur as stipulated in the Juba Peace Agreement. The Ministry of Health announces that four COVID-19 vaccines are available in Sudan.
September 15: Doctors confirm the emergence of Rift Valley fever in Northern State.
September 17: People attribute the surge in violent incidents in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities and towns this year to the growing poverty. Economist Hasan Bashir expects Sudanese economy to improve in 2022.
September 19: Eastern Sudanese community leaders and activists disagree on the way the Beja nazirs** lead the protest against the eastern Sudan peace accord protocol.
September 20: More violent incidents reported in North and Central Darfur. The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) urges the Sudanese authorities ‘to drop trumped-up charges’ against two young civic rights activists in Khartoum.
September 21: Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) prevent a coup attempt in Khartoum at dawn. Those involved were arrested. PM Hamdok speaks about “another attempt of the remnants of the former regime to abort the civil democratic transition.” President of the Sovereignty Council Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan responds by saying that “the armed forces are leading the change and take it wherever they want”. Hundreds of people take to the streets to condemn the coup attempt and call for civilian rule. The UN, the AU, the Sudan Troika, and the USA, EU, Friends of Sudan all denounce the coup as well.
September 22: Sudan military, politicians exchange accusations over the coup attempt.
September 23: Sudan revolutionaries demand reform of the armed forces.
September 26: Tensions between the military and civilian members of the Khartoum government worsen after security guards are ordered to leave their posts at the offices of the Empowerment Removal Committee in Khartoum. Beja nazirs reopen oil pipelines following the visit of a high-level delegation from Khartoum.
September 27: The tensions within the Sudanese government continue, despite mediation efforts to defuse the crisis. The ACJPS expresses its ‘utmost concern’ over the incommunicado detention of a journalist in the capital. Members of the Community Police beat up two women and a lawyer on the streets of Khartoum. Resistance Committees in Omdurman lodge an official complaint against the protesting Beja leaders in Red Sea state for undermining civil state authority.
September 28: Foreign envoys arrive in Khartoum, including the US envoy for the Horn of Africa, in an attempt to defuse Sudan’s political crisis. Five security officers are killed in raid on Islamic State cell in Khartoum.
September 30: The UN and Norway convene a digital High-Level Side Event in support of the transition process in Sudan. Thousands of people in Sudan demonstrate in support of the ERC and call for a civilian government.
* The full name of the committee is the Committee for Dismantling the June 30 1989 Regime, Removal of Empowerment and Corruption and Recovery of Public Funds. It was established by the government of Abdallah Hamdok in November 2019 with the aim to purge Sudan of the remnants of the ousted regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir (1989-2019).
Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the Al Bashir government supported its affiliates by granting them far-going privileges, including government functions, the setting-up of various companies, and tax exemptions.
** A nazir is a state-appointed administrative chief of a tribe or clan, according to the Native Administration system in Sudan introduced by the British colonial authorities in the first quarter of the 20th century.
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