The Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was on Thursday toppled by the country’s military after street protests for several months in the Capital Khartoum and across the country.
Bashir was arrested by his troops and a Transitional Military Council was announced to rule the country for the next two years.
The protests in Sudan were originally sparked by a rise in the cost of living, but demonstrators then began calling for the president to resign and his government to go.
When contacted for comment on Thursday over the events in Sudan, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba said Harare would first consult with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union about the events in Sudan before coming up with a position. Said Charamba:
We can’t have a Zimbabwe position before consulting Sadc and the mother body, the African Union. We will get a cue from them. But the government is following closely developments in Sudan.
A political scientist of world politics at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, Stephen Chan said:
This is not a replay of the Arab Spring, except that, as in Egypt, the military holds the key hand after the huge popular protests.
As in Cairo during the Arab Spring, the Sudanese and Algerian security forces refused to fire at the demonstrators. That is one huge key difference with Zimbabwe in the months after the departure of Mugabe.
Meanwhile, Piers Pigou, senior consultant at the International Crisis Group said that Sudan’s immediate future is still hazy. Said Pigou:
The story is not finished in Sudan. Protesters will understandably be unimpressed by the military retaining such an overtly political role and one expects demonstrations will continue.
A big question is whether the military will try and enforce the curfew or navigate the national mood more cautiously. It is essential that violent confrontation is avoided if possible. The Sudanese security sector does not have a reputation for sensitive crowd control!
Unlike Zimbabwe, whose military-assisted transition, maintained a veneer of legality, developments in Sudan appear to have more overtly crossed the line in terms of an unconstitutional intervention.
How will the AU respond? Bashir was regarded as a legitimately elected leader. Will they turn a blind eye as they did in Zimbabwe? The latter at least enabled a cloak of avoidance.