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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 21st November 2019

Islamists regroup in Sudan

Blue Lines

Suddenly the stakes in Sudan have been raised – between the revolutionaries and the supporters of Omer el Beshir's ousted regime. For weeks, rumours have been swirling about an impending coup by die-hard Islamists in state security, militias and Beshir's National Congress Party, proscribed by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan's junta in April.

Initially, Islamist activists accepted a three-year transition. With their accumulated wealth and security networks, they were confident of winning an election.

Times have changed.

First came a demand from the Forces for Freedom and Change that Beshir be handed over for trial at the International Criminal Court. That was followed on 5 November by a statement from Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok that 'no barrier' could stop that happening, prompting a threat from the People's Defence Forces, one of Beshir's militias, to burn the country should he be handed over.

Alongside this, the newly appointed Prosecutor General has ordered the arrest of two leading Islamists charged with involvement in the 1989 coup that brought Beshir to power. The generals on the sovereign ruling council may not want to obstruct the extradition, even if they dislike the idea of a foreign trial. Many would find Beshir's exit convenient, unless he tried to implicate them in war crimes. His support among the junior officers and the ranks collapsed long ago. Against expectations, his extradition could unite factions within the military.