Two months have passed since anti-government demonstrations erupted in northern Sudan and quickly spread across the country due to longstanding economic woes.
Located by the meeting point of Africa and the Middle East, Sudan has been rocked by protests that started in River Nile state’s Atbara city on December 19 over difficult living conditions.
As the protests are about to enter its third month, Anadolu Agency has compiled the main causes of the protests and ongoing incidents in the country.
A summary of the situation in Sudan is as follows:
1 - Who is President Omar al-Bashir and how long has he been in power?
Al-Bashir was born on January 1, 1944, in Sudan's northern Nile River state. He received military training in Egypt, Malaysia and Pakistan. In 1973, he served in the Egyptian army, which sided with Syria, in its war against Israel. In 1975, he was appointed an attache in the United Arab Emirates. Later on, he returned to Sudan and assumed his military duties in 1981.
While serving as a brigadier general in 1989, he overthrew the Sudanese government following a bloodless military coup. He became a chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, a fresh body with legislative and executive powers established for a transition period.
On October 16, 1993, he appointed himself as president and won the presidential elections in 1996, 2001, 2010 and 2015. A recent voting in parliament in December paved the way for al-Bashir to run for a fifth term.
2 - Why did the demonstrations erupt in Sudan?
The Khartoum administration has been struggling to cope with a financial crisis that has erupted since the Darfur conflict in 2003 and South Sudan's separation in 2011.
On the account of the bread price hike in northern parts of Sudan, the lack of flour and fuel and insufficiencies in public services have fueled the protests that started in December.
In addition, Inflation has gone up to around 70 percent, while some experts put the rate at 140 percent. The economic woes have triggered the demonstrations, which quickly spread to Khartoum and nationwide.
As Sudan suffers from a significant foreign exchange shortage, the devaluation of the country's pound continues. Despite the measures, fuel shortage has yet to be solved. The opposition accuses al-Bashir and his government of being responsible for the troubles.
3 - What are the reasons behind the shortage of fuel, flour and cash?
Before the separation of South Sudan in 2011, an American dollar was equivalent to two Sudanese pounds. However, today it corresponds to some 75 pounds on the black market. One should bear in mind that some 70 percent of the oil resources remained in South Sudan after the separation.
Once the government lifted state subsidy on flour -- which was suggested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- and fuel due to economic troubles, bread prices rose some sixfold -- increasing from half a pound to three pounds -- in certain regions. As a result of the famine, long queues emerged before bakeries and food stations, which drew a negative public reaction.
In response, the government lowered bread prices to a pound; but, it still was not able to provide a solution for the fuel shortage.
4 - What do protesters and opposition demand?
Opposition parties and armed rebels supported the mass protests and described the demonstrations as a "natural reaction to Omar al-Bashir's mismanagement of the country over the years."
Demonstrators demand more freedom, fair distribution of the resources, a solution to the ongoing shortages of cash and fuel and resignation of al-Bashir, who has been ruling over some three decades.
Protesters say they want to see a new face now and will maintain the demonstrations until the government and regime are overthrown.
Sudanese opposition issued the Declaration of Freedom and Change, in which they set their main demands as overthrowing the regime, ousting its establishments and combating corruption.
The declaration also seeks to establish a transition government with a tenure of four years and hold a constitutional conference regarding the management of Sudan at the end of this transition period.
5 - What was the government's reaction?
Government officials argue that saboteurs were the reason for turning peaceful demonstrations into violence. Emphasizing that freedom of speech and demonstrating were a constitutional right, the government says it will never allow illegal activities.
President al-Bashir and the government officials, during their speeches in numerous platforms, promised reforms and improvements; however, they underlined that elections were the only way to change the government.
6 - How do other countries react to the developments in Sudan?
Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Chad and Turkey put their weights behind the Sudanese government. The U.S. announced that it was worried about the arrests of protesters and violence against them.
Sudan's Federal Government Minister Hamid Mumtaz said that Turkey continued its efforts for stabilization in the country amid the ongoing protests.
7 - How does the media see the protests?
The opposition criticized the government for monopolizing the media. The news outlets usually use a language close to the government while protesters mostly go to social media to express their views.
8 - What is the position of the army and police forces?
The Sudanese army and police forces, since the first day of protests, declared their full commitment to al-Bashir, emphasizing that disrupting order and sedition would never be allowed.
Both state bodies have still maintained their stance.
9 - Are the demonstrations losing momentum?
The Sudanese government says that the protests, which started due to financial woes but were later politicized, have been in decline. On the other hand, the opposition says that the reasons for protests are still valid.
10 - What is the aftermath of the demonstrations and how is the situation in the country?
Although the frequency of the protests declined compared to its first weeks, they still continue in certain places but don't negatively impact daily life.
In the face of the protests, al-Bashir on Friday dissolved the state and federal governments and declared state of emergency for one year.
In an address to the nation, al-Bashir called on the Sudanese parliament to delay constitutional amendments that would allow him to run for another term in the presidential election in 2020.
According to the government, 32 people have been killed in the protests so far whereas Amnesty International puts the number at 51. As for the opposition, they claim that hundreds of people, including women, politicians and activists from various groups, have been detained.