Sudan: Challenging Changes


August 17, 2020: The United States announced that it will impose new sanctions on individuals the U.S. determines are “responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged, directly or indirectly, in undermining Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government’s efforts to implement the July 17, 2019, Political Agreement and August 17, 2019, (the) Constitutional Declaration.” Sanctionable actions include obstructing civilian government ministers or delaying implementation of the Constitutional Declaration. The Americans justify the new sanctions because Bashir-era government officials are trying to “undermine Sudan’s nascent democracy.” The U.S. sanctions are an attempt to aid the transitional government. The first sanctions imposed involve refusing to issue visas to those known to be obstructing the Sudan government. This includes family members as well. While this only restricts visits to the United States it also alerts other nations to those who are well known inside Sudan as active opponents to the new government. Some of these opponents are also accused of corruption or war crimes by international organizations.

August 14, 2020: In northern South Sudan (Warrap State) two soldiers were arrested and accused of killing armed civilians without justification on August 8th and triggering a series of clashes between armed civilians and soldiers. This began when soldiers confronted civilians who refused to turn in their weapons. Disarmament is part of the on-going peace agreement but in this case, soldiers opened fire when the armed civilians would not remove the red scarves they wore to identify themselves. Several days of fighting left at least 143 dead most (68 percent) civilians. By August 11, however, the UN was reporting that other violence had broken out in the Tonj region and 70 people had died in the battles. Many more were wounded. Peacekeepers showed up, persuaded everyone to stop fighting. The peacekeepers also set up a base in order to remain until the local anger diminishes. The peacekeepers had a hard time reaching some of the areas where there was fighting because heavy flooding in the area made roads impassable.

August 13, 2020: In eastern Sudan (Red Sea state) 32 people were killed and 98 injured during a third round of fighting between the Beni Amer and Nuba tribes. Security forces arrested 85 people in their effort to halt the violence that began on the 9th and broke out again on the 11th.

Sudan's government and its National Security and Defense Council said that Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt must reach a comprehensive and binding agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Ethiopia has begun filling the dam’s reservoir. All three nations agreed to begin negotiations to settle the dispute over how much water GERD would withhold from Egypt, the major downstream user.

August 12, 2020: In western Sudan (Darfur) another outbreak of tribal violence sent a new wave of refugees into Chad. At least 20,000 people have been displaced by the attacks.

August 11, 2020: In Sudan the trial of former Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir has been postponed indefinitely. Bashir faces charges related to the June 30, 1989 coup he launched which toppled the government and placed him in power. Bashir is already serving two years in prison for a corruption conviction. The International Criminal Court still intends to try Bashir for crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

August 10, 2020: Sudan asked that negotiations over operations of the GERD remain suspended at least until August 17.

August 9, 2020: In eastern Sudan (Red Sea state) clashes involving the Beni Amer and Nuba tribes broke out. The fighting caused at least 25 deaths and 87 injuries despite a curfew being imposed on the region.

In northern South Sudan (Abyei Region) five people were killed when 70 South Sudanese soldiers battled with men guarding a Dinka village. Three civilians and two soldiers were killed. Abyei is an oil-producing region claimed by both South Sudan and Sudan. Violence in Abyei is often between the pro-Sudan Misseriya tribe, which opposed the South Sudan government decision to declare Abyei South Sudanese territory. The Misseriya want Sudan to oppose the South Sudan decision. The semi-nomadic Misseriya tribesmen entered Abyei from Sudan’s South Kordofan state. South Sudan contends that Abyei is a historically Dinka enclave. A referendum held in 2013 in Abyei, over 95 percent of the voters (99 percent according to some reports) favored joining South Sudan. Sudan rejected the referendum results, but that was when Basher was still in power. The Ngok Dinka tribe are the original inhabitants of Abyei, Christian, part of one of the largest tribes in South Sudan and, not-surprisingly, eager to be part of South Sudan.

August 3, 2020: In South Sudan the damage done during the civil war to the oil fields and oil production facilities is proving to be far greater than the government thought. However, the government’s 2020 goal of producing 200,000 barrels a day was in reach until the Covid-19 virus pandemic hit and disrupted personnel availability. Production has now slipped to around 175,000 barrels per day. There are also new reports that an oil pipeline is linking oil into the Nile River.

August 1, 2020: Despite harsh objections from Egypt and vigorous objections by Sudan, Ethiopia began filling the GERD dam reservoir in July and today indicated that its 2020 target for the reservoir has almost been reached.

July 31, 2020: In western Sudan (South Darfur state) another serious attack occurred when armed men attacked a village. This involved looting. Burning homes and shooting several villagers.

July 28, 2020: In eastern South Sudan (Jonglei state) a militia apparently from South Sudan (Greater Pibor Administrative Area) attacked a village and killed at least 17 people and wounded nine.

July 27, 2020: Sudan’s transitional government swore in 18 civilian state governors. Two of the new governors are women. The government also announced that more security forces were being sent to western Sudan (Darfur region). These forces will focus on protecting civilians during the farming season.

In eastern South Sudan (Jonglei state) 23 people were murdered and at least 20 more wounded when a group of unidentified gunmen attacked a cathedral church compound. The attackers then vandalized the church and burned the village. One of the individuals slain was the cathedral’s dean. The cathedral belonged to the Episcopal Church of South Sudan’s Diocese of Athooch. The attackers also kidnapped six children. For eight years Jonglei state has been suffered ethnic violence involving the Nuer, Dinka and Murle tribes.

July 25, 2020: In western Sudan (West Darfur state) an estimated 500 gunmen attacked a village and killed at least 60 people and wounded 88. The village attacked (Masteri) is an Masalit tribe area about 50 kilometers from the capital of West Darfur. The attack caused an estimated 10,000 people to flee towards the state capital (El Geneina). The attackers have not been identified.

July 24, 2020: In Sudan an investigating team working for a senior prosecutor’s office found a mass grave that they believe contains the remains of 28 military officers former dictator Omar al-Bashir had executed in 1990 for allegedly plotting a coup against him. The officers were murdered and their bodies were burned. The forensic investigation began in early July.

July 23, 2020: In western Sudan (South Darfur state), a group of unidentified gunmen raided the village and killed at least 15 people.

July 22, 2020: In southern Sudan (South Kordofan state) several dozen people have been killed in tribal fighting in the state capital (Kadugli).

July 21, 2020: In Sudan a court officially convened the trial of former dictator Omar al-Bashir. Citing Covid-19 virus pandemic concerns, the judges then adjourned the trial until August 11.

July 18, 2020: In Sudan the army announced that it had appointed a special legal commissioner with the mandate to sue anyone who “insults the army.” Presumably the commissioner could bring a lawsuit against reporters and human rights activists.

July 17, 2020: In Sudan (the capital Khartoum) several thousand supporters of former dictator Omar al Bashir demonstrated against the new civilian government. Meanwhile, Sudan’s Sovereign National Council (SNC) approved a request by the UN to establish a UN office to help Sudan transition to a democratic society that recognizes humane treatment of citizens.

July 16, 2020: In South Sudan the government confirmed that First Vice President Riek Machar’s SPLA-IO coalition will choose the governor in Upper Nile state.

In southern South Sudan (Central Equatoria state) the rebel NSF (National Salvation Front) claimed that its fighters had defeated attacks by government forces. The NSF is not part of the September 2018 peace agreement between the government and most rebel factions.

July 14, 2020: In Sudan the government announced it will end its Islamic apostasy laws and allow non-Muslims to consume alcohol. It will also abolish public lashing (flogging) as a punishment. The announcement effectively ends years of contentious Islamic law. Gaafar al-Nimeiry, who led a military government in Sudan from 1969 to 1985, imposed Islamic law in 1983. The Bashir regime used these laws to punish and oppress its opponents.

In Sudan security forces detained hardline Islamist leader Mohamed Ali al-Gizouli after Gizouli called on the military to topple the transitional government. Gizouli also leader the Law and Development Party.


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