Violence Erupts In Sudan Amid Fears of Nationwide Confrontations

There are fears of a spillover into violence from a mutiny by some units of the Sudanese intelligence in some parts of the Sudanese capital Khartoum, including an area near Khartoum International Airport.

The mutiny erupted on January 14 when several armed units of the intelligence agency took to the streets, blocked them and started shooting into the air. This show of force came against the background of refusal by the members of the units involved in the mutiny of the ongoing reform of the intelligence agency, the Sudanese cabinet said.

Sudan’s cabinet has decided to reform the intelligence agency as part of ongoing efforts in Sudan to end the presence of the loyalists of ousted President Omar al-Bashir in Sudanese institutions, including inside the security and military establishments.

Sudanese Information Minister, Faisal Mohamed Saleh, said the reform would include ending the service of some of the workers of the intelligence agency, including the members of the units staging the mutiny.

Nonetheless, these members are rejecting the end of service gratuity offered them by the government, Saleh said. Nevertheless, those following the new development in Sudan point to more than just a refusal of an end of service gratuity, amid reports of Sudan’s transition staggering because of Bashir’s loyalists and the Sudanese deep state, which is controlled by members of the ousted president’s party as well as the nation’s Islamists.

Over 30 years of rule, Bashir succeeded in making the members of his Islamist National Congress Party in control inside all Sudan’s institutions, especially inside important state agencies, including the intelligence agency.

These people – some of them are not known to be backers of Bashir’s regime – will prove a hard nut to crack for the new administration in Sudan and as the poor African state tries to chart a new future.

The same post-revolution transition difficulties were manifest in Arab Spring states Tunisia and Egypt where the followers of the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the Hosni Mubarak regimes tried to hamper progress in the two states after the downfall of the two regimes in 2011.

The ongoing mutiny by the members of the intelligence agency threatens to morph into a wider confrontation, especially after the deployment of Sudanese army troops around the areas where the mutiny is taking place.

Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, tried to assure Sudanese citizens that his government can bring the situation under control.

“They will not stop us and our mission nor will they be a reason for us to retreat from the goals of this revolution,” Hamdok said.

“This situation stresses the need for the current partnership and the need to push it forward to achieve our higher goals,” Hamdok wrote on Twitter.

Sudan has already taken several precautionary measures, including the closure of its airspace and Khartoum International Airport. Sudanese citizens have started descending on the streets and some public shows of anger are in the making.

A Sudanese citizen has been injured by gunfire and other human casualties are expected to happen in the coming hours, especially if the members of the units staging the mutiny refuse to surrender to the Sudanese army or lay down their arms as the Sudanese government asks them to do.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the umbrella coalition of Sudanese political forces during the uprising against Bashir, has called on Sudanese citizens to stay at home or at least away from the areas where the mutiny is taking place.

It said it rejects attempts to terrorize Sudanese citizens. The association also called on Sudanese state authorities to intervene. The situation is still unfolding, and this opens the door for all possibilities in the coming hours. The Sudanese army will be trying to contain the mutiny and prevent it from developing.

A member of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, a body made up of Sudan’s political forces and the military, did not rule out political motivations behind the mutiny.

“Some security officials are not happy with the reform of the intelligence agency,” Shams Eddine al-Kabashi said. “Nevertheless, the army will take the whole matter into its own hands if this group refuses to surrender.”