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Sudan: Economic crisis fuels disputes between military and civilian leaderships

A Sudanese man prepares food outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan on 7 May 2019 [Ashraf SHAZLY/AFP/Getty]
A Sudanese man prepares food outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan on 7 May 2019 [Ashraf SHAZLY/AFP/Getty]

The deepening economic crisis in Sudan is causing disputes between the civilian and military leaderships within the Sudanese transitional government.

The Sudanese army overthrew longtime dictator Omar Al-Bashir in 2019 after months of popular protests against him. In August of the same year, the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC), which led the popular movement, and the Transitional Military Council (TMC) that took power at the time, reached an historic agreement on a three-year transitional phase that provided for the formation of the Sovereignty Council and a government led by military and civilian figures.

The agreement concluded that Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan heads the Sovereignty Council, while Abdalla Hamdok leads the government. However, with growing popular discontent due to the lack of solutions to the economic crisis, the two parties have started to exchange accusations of being responsible for the collapse.

"There is a campaign to dismantle the military institution… Now, some are talking about companies owned by the armed forces," Al-Burhan said on Monday, speaking to soldiers in a military area in Omdurman, which is located on the west bank of the Nile and which borders the capital, Khartoum.

READ: Sudan slams 'attempts to dismantle national army'

He added: "When we came to power, we found that there are only 421 government companies, 200 of which work under government administration and 221 operate independently. We raised the matter to the cabinet, but they did not take any measures."

Al-Burhan's statement came in response to Hamdok's comments that: "Only 18 per cent of the country's economic resources are under government control."

Sudan is suffering from a stifling economic crisis, in which the inflation rate reached about 143 per cent last July, according to government statistics.

The value of the Sudanese pound against the US dollar has fallen to 187 pounds in the black market, while the official rate, according to the central bank, is 55 pounds per dollar.

Al-Burhan emphasised that companies owned by the army do not have a monopoly, saying: "The armed forces' companies have not monopolised the export of livestock or gold, nor have they prohibited anyone from benefiting from the country's resources."

READ: Sudan removes 151 judges over their association with Bashir regime

The Sovereignty Council consists of 11 members, including six civilians and five military personnel.

Some military-owned companies operate in agriculture and pharmaceuticals, while others run private hospitals and military manufacturing complexes, in addition to exporting red meat.

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