Sudan faces total power outage, social media shutdown following fresh protests

Fresh protests began in Sudan on April 6, as thousands joined in the calls for the resignation of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has wielded authoritarian power for three decades.

Since December, Sudanese have called Bashir to step down, saying his exit would remedy the dire economic and political situation in the northeastern African state. It has been four months and yet Bashir has still refused to resign from the position he occupied since 1989. Instead, the 75-year old who noted that” the concerns raised by protesters are legitimate”, declared a yearlong state of emergency and dissolved both central and state government officials in February, after an initial crackdown failed to calm demonstrators.

The calls for his exit began gaining momentum when prices began to soar, food became scarce to the extent that the majority could no longer afford bread. Many are tired of the hardship under Bashir’s leadership and want him to resign.

Until the second half of 2002, Sudan’s economy boomed on the back of increases in oil production, high oil prices, and large inflows of foreign direct investment. However, the protracted social conflict, the civil war and the secession of South Sudan, led the loss of three-quarters of its oil production in 2011.

Seeing the of success Algeria’s protests, which led to the resignation of President Bouteflika, Sudanese have intensified their protests, with thousands of people rallying and camping outside the headquarters of the Sudanese army cum presidential residence since Saturday as a way of pressuring the president. Many have also urged the military to back their demands for Bashir’s resignation.

Ahmed Soliman, an analyst at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, noted that the ability of demonstrators to gather outside a high-security military complex, which houses both the ministry of defence and the presidential residence, may suggest support for Bashir among powerful senior officers is weakening, or that the military may be hoping to use the protests to pressure factions within the ruling elite.

Since the new protests broke out over the weekend, there has been a complete power outage, a nationwide social media block and a military-protesters clash. The security forces fired tear gas at protesters in an attempt to break up a demonstration. So far, 300,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes, according to
the United Nation.

Omar al-Bashir’s term ends in 2020 and he has repeatedly promised over the years not to seek re-election. However, without the amendment of the country’s constitution, Bashir cannot run for another term.