Political Instability in Sudan: 12 Month Outlook

The leader of Sudan’s military-dominated government, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, dismissed the five remaining civilians on the country’s sovereignty council [source]. General al-Burhan seized power in a military coup last October [source]. Deadly protests erupted last week in opposition to al-Burhan’s military junta. The military coordinated with paramilitary forces to violently crackdown on protesters [source], potentially plunging the country into violent upheavals in the next 12 months.

Key Judgement 1: It is likely that General al-Burhan will refuse to step aside and allow for a civilian-led transitional government in the next 12 months.

  • General al-Burhan failed to present a timeline for the military’s departure from power in his July 4th address [source]. Further, the UN withdrew from the political negotiations [source].

  • General al-Burhan deployed the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to keep order in Khartoum [source]. Following this, fractures and disputes are beginning to appear among the civilian political coalition [source].

  • Former Sudanese Vice President Mubarak el-Mahdi flew to Uganda to meet with President Museveni. El-Mahdi met with South Sudan’s leader as well [source]. This was an apparent effort to involve third parties in mediation between civilian groups and the military. El-Mahdi was arrested in 2007 for meeting with Gaddafi under the same pretences [source]. 
  • The military government has reintegrated ousted members of Omar al-Bashir’s deposed regime into the civil service [source]. Moreover, allies of the former dictator have been released from prison on the behest of General al-Burhan [source]. 
  • Adhoc resistance groups have been formed in Khartoum since the coup last October [source]. Sudanese political parties have expressed a lack of faith that al-Burhan will step aside [source]. 
  • General al-Burhan has expressed a willingness to step aside only after the 2023 elections [source]. In the same interview, he claimed the former regime will have no role in the military interregnum, a claim which has proven to be false.

Key Judgement 2: It is likely that the Sudanese economy will experience severe contractions in the next 12 months.

  • Inflation in Sudan jumped to 200% by June [source]. Additionally, exports have collapsed by almost 85% since last year, according to the country’s central bank [source]. 
  • The Sudanese currency is depreciating and sliding in both official and black markets [source], [source].

  • Basic services such as water and electrical power are now becoming scarce to the average Sudanese citizen [source]. 40% of Sudan’s population will suffer food insecurity by September [source]. 
  • Paris Club creditors suspended a debt restructuring deal with Sudan. The deal will remain suspended until Sudan agrees to return to a previous agreement with the IMF [source].
  • Sudan’s military has monopolistic control over key sectors of the economy. 408 entities are under the direct control of the military. It is unlikely that the military will liberalize its hold over the economy in order to avoid severe economic contractions [source].

Key Judgement 3: It is highly likely that Russia will exploit political instability in Khartoum to strengthen its position in Sudan in the next 12 months.

  • The Kremlin-linked mercenary group, Wagner PMC, currently operates in Sudan on behalf of General al-Burhan [source]. General al-Burhan denies these links [source]. 
  • Wagner operates an illicit gold processing plant near Al-Ibediyya [source] [source]. Wagner’s activities in Sudan are conducted through the company ‘M Invest’, a front company of Wagner’s patron Yevgeny Prigozhin [source]. 
  • General al-Burhan reportedly blocked the search of a Russian military aircraft operated by Wagner suspected of smuggling illicit gold and diamonds, [source]. General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the RSF, reportedly receives a cut of the gold smuggled by Wagner to the UAE [source]. 
  • Wagner has received massive concessions on gold mining and exploration in Sudan from the military in exchange for security services [source]. Further instability would therefore provide Wagner with additional means to bolster its relationship with al-Burhan.
  • Russia seeks to build a naval base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast [source]. Wagner is providing security for the construction of the base [source], [source]. 

Intelligence Cut-Off Date: July 26, 2022

Alec Smith
Alec Smith
Alec Smith is a graduate of the MSC International Relations program of the University of Aberdeen and holds an LLB in Global Law from Tilburg University.

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