On October 25, 2021, the Sudan witnessed a military coup that threatens to reverse the country’s path towards a transition to democracy which first began in the aftermath of Sudan’s revolution of December 2018. In that year, following three decades of authoritarian rule, popular protests in Sudan successfully toppled former President Omar Bashir from power. The intifada (popular uprising) was a culmination of over six months of sustained protests that included Sudanese across the social and regional divide. This lecture will examine the underlying causes and consequences of the popular uprising of 2018 and 2019, the key factors that led up to the recent military coup, and the prospects for the resumption of a transition to a civilian democracy in the context of the ongoing wide-scale pro-democracy protests throughout the country. In addressing the obstacles as well as the prospects of a return to civilian rule, the lecture will evaluate the relative strength of the current regime’s capacity for coercion vis-à-vis what is a resurgent civil society opposition, the state of Sudan’s political economy and fiscal health, the level of international support, and the degree to which the state security sector is entrenched in Sudanese civil society. The lecture will conclude whether Sudan will witness a return to a consolidated authoritarian regime or re-embark on a democratic transition by focusing on the levels (and nature) of popular mobilization, civil society cohesion, political party autonomy and legitimacy, the capacity of the coercive apparatus of the current military regime in the aftermath of the coup led by General Abdel-Fatih Burhan, and the crucially important, albeit often neglected, question having to do with the nature of transnational economic and strategic linkages between Sudan and countries in the region.
Dr. Khalid Mustafa Medani is associate professor of political science and Islamic Studies at McGill University, and he has also taught at Oberlin College and Stanford University. Dr. Medani received a B.A. in Development Studies from Brown University, an M.A. in Development Studies from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the political economy of Islamic and Ethnic Politics in Africa and the Middle East. Dr. Medani is the author of Black Markets and Militants: Informal Networks in the Middle East and Africa(Cambridge University Press, 2021) and he is presently completing another book manuscript on the causes and consequences of Sudan’s 2018 popular uprising and the prospects and obstacles for Democracy in that country. In addition, he has published extensively on civil conflict with a special focus on the armed conflicts in Sudan and Somalia. His work has appeared in Political Science and Politics (PS), the Journal of Democracy, the Journal of North African Studies, Current History, Middle East Report, Review of African Political Economy, Arab Studies Quarterly, and the UCLA Journal of Islamic Law. Dr. Medani is a previous recipient of a Carnegie Scholar on Islam award from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (2007-2009) and in 2020-2021 he received a fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars to conduct research on his current book manuscript on the democratic transition in Sudan.