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Sudan: Popular Protests, Today and Yesterday

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In April 2019, four months of sustained protests throughout Sudan culminated in the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled the country since taking office in a 1989 military coup. Originally a response to the spiraling cost of living, demonstrators soon widened their criticisms to encompass the full impact of Bashir’s three decades in power: brutal political repression, economic stagnation, and civil war in the country’s west and south. In the end, the huge crowds who took to the streets of Khartoum and other cities (including a significant proportion of women) crystallized their demands in a simple chant, directed at Bashir: “Just fall — that’s all.”

International observers have suggested that the uprising in Sudan represents a second “Arab Spring.” Yet perhaps more important is the long history of popular protest within Sudan, which have twice in the past toppled autocratic governments. As protestors continue to defy the military government and demand the establishment of civilian rule, understanding Sudan’s past is key to any attempt to predict its future.

Join us in this month’s History Talk podcast, as your hosts Lauren Henry and Eric Michael Rhodes discuss this pivotal moment for Sudan with two experts on Sudanese history and politics: Ahmad Sikainga and Kim Searcy.

To learn more about the history of Sudan, read our feature article, Who Owns the Nile? Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia’s History-Changing Dam. Be sure to check our other coverage of the region: All Politics is Local: Understanding Boko Haram, Searching for Wakanda: The African Roots of the Black Panther Story, and our recent episode, Who Owns the Past? Museums and Cultural Heritage Repatriation.

-Posted May 2019