Sudan - Fourth Civil War - 2023-20??

In the end there can be only one. The military in Sudan sought to disempower civilians after its October 2021 coup, a cause that united different factions within the security sector, including Hemedti. The Sudanese people who had been protesting for four years, demanding a democratic civilian government, had been right all along, and everyone forcing them to compromise with the army and the militia has been wrong. Democracy would bring stability to Sudan, yet civilians are disunited on everything. By 2023, with civilians removed from the political process, the inevitable clash between Hemedti and al-Burhan erupted. Sudanese soldiers shouted Allahu Akbar, celebrating the capture of other Sudanese soldiers wearing a slightly different camouflage uniform, all boasting the Sudanese flag on their chests.

Violence broke out on 15 April 2023 between forces loyal to Sudanese Armed Forces chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy turned rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Previous allies worked together to overthrow the interim Sudanese government in 2021, now clashed for power with neither party gaining a visible advantage. Negotiations had been under way to get the country back on a path to democracy. Under international pressure, Burhan and Hemedti agreed in December 2022 to a framework agreement with political parties and pro-democracy groups. But the deal was vague on key points of dispute, including how the RSF would be integrated into the armed force and who would have final control. The framework agreement ratcheted up tensions when it elevated Hemedti's position into Burhan's equal, rather than his deputy. That shift in power is why conversations about security sector reform and integration of the RSF ended up in armed conflict rather than heated debate around the table.

Violence erupted over the planned integration of Daglo's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) into the regular army. The integration was a key element of talks to finalise a deal that would return the country to civilian rule and end the political and economic crisis sparked by their 2021 coup in one of the world's poorest countries.

The Rapid Support Forces was formed in 2013 and is a paramilitary force composed mostly of former Janjaweed fighters. The Janjaweed were notorious for their involvement in the Darfur conflict, which began in 2003 and is considered one of the worst humanitarian crises of the 21st century. Since its formation, the RSF has been accused of human rights abuses, including rape, torture, and extrajudicial killings. In 2019, the RSF was involved in a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Khartoum, which resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people. The RSF has also been involved in the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region, where it has been accused of committing war crimes and ethnic cleansing against non-Arab groups.

The International Crisis Group noted "In courting the civilian elites, Hemedti exploited the fact that many of them – much as they distrust the RSF – view the army as their historical enemy, a redoubt of Bashir sympathisers including Islamists who had staffed the former president’s bureaucracy. In December 2022, a framework agreement promising to restore civilian rule accentuated their rivalry. While Burhan signed the deal only under heavy external pressure, Hemedti championed it, due to clauses he saw as giving him autonomy from Burhan and the army. The agreement recognised the RSF as a regular entity affiliated with the armed forces but placed it under the direct command of a civilian head of state, rather than the army chief, during a transition period. The deal also required the RSF to integrate into the army but left the timetable open to negotiation. This arrangement only deepened the distrust between Sudan’s two military overlords."

As the sticky matter of the RSF’s integration heated up in the weeks before the fighting, it could have been that al-Burhan felt more secure in his position than he was. Possibly Al-Burhan’s lack of action was to avoid the clashes between SAF and RSF that emerged in April 2023. The urban setting of Khartoum poses a problem for both the RSF and SAF due to their combat histories and specialisations. The SAF is not known for being highly mobile on the ground, or even being precise with respect to their air force. The RSF, on the other hand, never had the same training as the army in defending fixed positions, holding territory, or sustaining attacks.

The military can use long-range artillery and fighter jets to defend their positions. Up close they have tanks and heavy armor. The RSF is not positioned to hold territory and defend positions because it is configured like a guerilla force that strikes and retreats quickly. Many RSF recruits are also unfamiliar with the operational environment in the capital. These are people from the peripheral regions of the country with very little knowledge of the streets and neighbourhoods in Khartoum. The SAF has an advantage there because the SAF knows Khartoum. At the same time, the SAF is not mobile; it cannot defend positions reasonably well and it is not going to be able to chase the RSF around the city.

Still, neither force appears to be adjusting its combat tactics to its surroundings. RSF used the same tactics from the Janjaweed: they are pillaging, marauding, and looting in neighbourhoods. With no established supply lines in Khartoum and their headquarters destroyed, RSF fighters go into people’s homes to steal food, water, supplies, and occupy them].

Early in the crisis, reports surfaced that the Russian Wagner Group was lending tactical support to the RSF. Marcel Plichta, a research fellow at the Centre for Global Law and Governance, said that “there are claims on the use of Wagner aircraft or Wagner-operated airfields to lift material to the RSF, in particular portable surface-to-air missiles. From a military perspective, this niche capability is highly valuable to the RSF because al-Burhan controls the regular military’s air force and the RSF lack strong anti-aircraft capabilities”.

But Plichta cautioned that Wagner is still not a decisive force in this battle. “The number of contractors currently active in Sudan is small compared to the tens of thousands of RSF and SAF personnel. The founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, benefits from portraying it as more influential than it is. It is important to not overestimate the strength and influence of this group, as much as it is important to not downplay the harm it brings to civilians,” he said.

Because the SAF and RSF were designed to be complementary rather than competing forces within one state, the conflict setting in Khartoum puts both in a deadlock, observers say. At the same time, the rift between al-Burhan and Hemedti has weakened state power. The unclear situation on the ground deterrf political actors from intervening, in another blow to the already faltering democratic process. The coup in 2021 made it very clear that powerful figures in the security services were not willing to allow democratisation without serious preservation of their powers and the spoils they are getting from the system. As long as neither RSF nor SAF has the upper hand, a chance for negotiations will not be in sight. Neither of these sides wants to end the fighting. They have agreed to every ceasefire, though they did not implement them. What might create a real opening for dialogue is if one side is about to win. If one side gains a tactical advantage – like if the RSF is driven out of Khartoum – that might create a real opportunity for them to talk.

A US-brokered ceasefire agreement between Sudan's warring generals failed to stem ten days of heavy fighting, including air strikes and artillery barrages. Hundreds of people have perished, many of them civilians, and some neighbourhoods of greater Khartoum now lie in ruins. All the while, foreign governments had been scrambling to get their nationals out via road convoys, aircraft and ships.

A three-day ceasefire was agreed 27 April 2023 after mediation led by the United States, Saudi Arabia, the African Union and the United Nations aimed at securing a more lasting truce. The two sides agreed to extend a ceasefire for 72 hours, but sounds of gunshots and shelling continued to be heard in the capital Khartoum and elsewhere. Intermittent clashes were continuing despite the extended truce. Despite the renewed truce, warplanes on bombing raids drew heavy anti-aircraft fire over Khartoum as fierce fighting between Sudan's army and paramilitaries entered a third week.

The fighting parties nominated representatives for talks which could either be hosted by Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, or Juba in South Sudan, the United Nations special representative in the country told the Reuters news agency. Volker Perthes suggested that both the Sudanese military and the RSF paramilitary group seemed more open to negotiations now. He questioned nevertheless whether they could "actually sit together." No timeline had been decided for the talks. "They both think they will win, but they are both sort of more open to negotiations, the word 'negotiations' or 'talks' was not there in their discourse in the first week or so," he said, adding that both parties have "accepted that this war cannot continue."

General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Daglo, commander of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) stressed that his forces are now in complete control of the capital Khartoum’s three main districts: Khartoum, Khartoum Bahri and Omdurman. In an interview 02 May 2023 to Asharq Al-Awsat, he added that the RSF is working closely with the citizens to find solutions to water and electricity problems and shortages in over services.

A weeklong cease-fire agreed to by both factions in the Sudanese conflict was supposed to be in effect from 04 May until May 11. However, chances that it would hold had been considered slim. The cease-fire in Sudan that was supposed to come into force was immediately broken, with airstrikes and heavy shelling reported near the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum in the morning. Artillery fire was also heard in the neighboring town of Omdurman, according to eyewitness reports.

The United States expects the fighting between two military chiefs in Sudan to continue as neither has an incentive to seek peace, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has said. “The fighting in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is, we assess, likely to be protracted as both sides believe that they can win militarily and have few incentives to come to the negotiating table,” Haines told a US Senate hearing on 04 May 2023. “Both sides are seeking external sources of support, which, if successful, is likely to intensify the conflict and create a greater potential for spillover challenges in the region,” she said.

Regional Players

Sudan is at the center of long-lasting permanent crises. It is characterized by frequent armed conflicts. When a conflict breaks out in one of these countries, be it Egypt, Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea or Saudi Arabia, the neighboring country is always affected as well. Israel's normalization process with Sudan in the last three years built relationships with both Army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF leader Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti.

  • Egypt's military regime in tends to see Sudan's military government as an ally. With Cairo supporting al-Burhan and Abu Dhabi backing Hemedti, Egypt and the UAE are not on the same page. Egypt has a long history with Sudan, and not just as a trading partner. Egypt and Sudan have similar cultures, and the relationship of some Sudanese elites is close with Egypt. In the Pharaonic era, Sudan was part of Egypt and called itself Nubia. For a short time, however, the Nubians also ruled Egypt, and later both countries were under British colonial rule. Egypt wants to bring Sudan into its camp in the conflict over Ethiopia's giant GERD hydroelectric dam. Hemedti accused Egypt of colluding with al-Burhan and sending fighter jets and soldiers to help the Sudanese military. Egypt supports Burhan and sees the Sudanese army reflecting the Egyptian army as the only institution that can maintain the stability of Sudan. Egypt sees Hemedti as a mercenary. The Egyptians are very fiercely opposed to Hemedti.
  • Turkiye warned that if any forces moved to Libya from Sudan they would be targeted. Supposedly there was a plan for such an event, with forces being sent from Libya, via Khalifa Haftar. So a scenario was chosen, "which is calming down, dialogue, and a ceasefire – whatever it may be – to save what can be saved."
  • Chad has a culture of hospitality and cannot hermetically seal its border. The country is already hosting more than 500,000 refugees. An ongoing war could have a lasting impact on the entire Sahel region, including trade between the two neighbors. Traditionally, there has been a lot of border traffic between Chad and Sudan, such as the flow of herders grazing their flocks on both sides of the border.
  • Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Sudan in January 2023 and met army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the de facto head of state. The two discussed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Egypt fears could cut into its Nile water supply, and a border dispute over the fertile region of el-Fashaga.

  • The United Arab Emirates was accused of being behind the April 2023 events in Sudan. Social media users circulated a recording attributed to the former head of Sudanese intelligence, Salah Gosh. The UAE allegedly established a 'command centre' in Abu Dhabi with the aim of replacing the army with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Sudanese Army's Chief of Staff, General Kamal Abdel Marouf, said the initial change in Sudan began with a "Masonic conspiracy from within the system, and from camel-herding countries in the Gulf that sponsored the change, as well as foreign countries that relied on some wandering individuals in Europe who claim to be activists but are actually political traders." In 2022 Sudan’s military authorities and two UAE-based companies signed a $6bn preliminary agreement for the construction of the Abu Amama port, located on the Red Sea. For the UAE, this large project is part of a wider policy in the Red Sea and Africa, with the Emiratis attempting to expand their sphere of influence, and build up a network of strategic outposts, of which Abu Amama would be a critical node. The UAE’s interests are in controlling ports in the Red Sea. The UAE has political and economic interests in the Red Sea, and it’s expanding into central and west Africa. The Emiratis had played a game of supporting both Hemedti [Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo] and [Abdel Fattah] al-Burhan over the past couple of years. The Emiratis developed a two-pillar approach of supporting two strongmen, which was never going to be a sustainable approach. Hemedti is copying many UAE narratives about Islamism, basically equating Burhan with political Islamism.
  • Russian involvement in Sudan primarily benefited Dagalo,the main recipient of Moscow’s weapons and training.
  • Wagner, the Russian mercenary group, had been supplying Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces with missiles to aid their fight against the country’s army, Sudanese and regional diplomatic sources told CNN. Satellite imagery supported these claims, showing an unusual uptick in activity on Wagner bases. Both Russia and the Libyan general may have been preparing to support the RSF even before the eruption of violence. Wagner operates a gold processing plant in Sudan.
  • In Libya, the Wagner-backed general, Khalifa Haftar, controls swathes of land. Satellite images analyzed by CNN and open-source group “All Eyes on Wagner” show one Russian transport plane shuttling between two key Libyan airbases belonging to Haftar and used by the sanctioned Russian fighting group. If Hemedti looks like he’s getting the upper hand in the struggle against Burhan, the Emiratis could come and support him more forcefully, and maybe not too directly, so perhaps through a surrogate like Khalifa Haftar,
  • Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates became Hemedti's powerful friends after he sent RSF forces to back them against Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen’s civil war.
  • Eritrea’s authoritarian leader, Isais Afwerki, invited, RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo to meet ostensibly yospeak about bilateral relations. What was actually discussed behind closed doors is unclear. Some observers expected Eritrea to get more directly involved in Sudan’s conflict if violence eventually reaches or destabilises Port Sudan. Eritrea had longstanding relationships with a number of powerful tribes in eastern Sudan, such as the Beni Amer, Beja and Rashida. In the early 2000s, Eritrea backed those tribes when they waged an armed rebellion against the government of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

With seven international borders, Sudan’s violence has the potential to spill into many other countries. From a GCC perspective, the risks of the crisis having destabilising effects on the Gulf and Egypt are particularly concerning. GCC officials want to see the Arab League and its members step up diplomatic efforts aimed at winding down this violence before it spirals further out of control. The Biden administration had been coordinating its diplomatic efforts with the so-called Quad countries [Saudi Arabia, UAE, UK, US] on efforts to establish a civilian government in Sudan. The Americans outsourced Sudan’s transition to regional partners [chiefly Saudi Arabia and the UAE].

Initial Violence

The RSF said its forces had taken control of Khartoum airport, after witnesses reported seeing truckloads of fighters entering the airport compound, as well as the presidential palace -- where Burhan is officially based -- and other key sites. The army, however, said the airport and other bases remain under their "full control". It published a photograph of black smoke billowing from what it said was the RSF headquarters.

Created in 2013, the RSF emerged from the Janjaweed militia that then-president Omar al-Bashir unleashed against non-Arab ethnic minorities in the western Darfur region a decade earlier, drawing accusations of war crimes. Daglo has said the coup was a mistake that failed to bring about change and reinvigorated remnants of Bashir's regime ousted by the army in 2019 following mass protests. Burhan, a career soldier from northern Sudan who rose through the ranks under Bashir's three-decade rule, maintained the coup was necessary to bring more groups into the political process.

The chaos engulfing Sudan stems both from the personal enmity between the country’s two most powerful generals and a structural rivalry pitting the military against what has effectively become a second army. The two generals are former allies, having conspired only 18 months earlier to derail Sudan’s short-lived transition to democracy. Since fighting began on Saturday, both men have dug in despite mounting diplomatic pressure, saying they will not negotiate a truce, engaging in verbal attacks and demanding the other's surrender. As the fighting escalated on 15 April 2023, Burhan ordered the RSF to be dissolved, branding it a “rebel” group. In turn, Hemedti called the army chief “a radical Islamist who is bombing civilians from the air”.

The bloodshed marked a deadly setback for Sudan, a resource-rich nation long blighted by kleptocratic rule. It comes just four years after a popular uprising helped depose long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir, inspiring hope in a country strategically located at the crossroads of Africa and the Arab world. While Sudan had a long history of military coups, the power struggle that has erupted into open warfare is a legacy of Bashir’s policy of divide and rule. In the last days of Bashir’s regime he allowed a very fragmented, factional security force to emerge, partly so that none of them were strong enough to overthrow him.

The chaotic scenes of fighting are unprecedented for Khartoum, with tanks, artillery and warplanes operating in densely populated areas of the capital. Fighting has also spread to the war-wrecked western Darfur region and areas of northern and eastern Sudan, near the borders with Egypt and Ethiopia – underscoring the RSF’s extensive reach.

Heavy fighting was still underway in Sudan on 17 April 2023, hours after an internationally brokered truce was supposed to have come into effect, as forces loyal to dueling generals battled for key locations in the capital and accused each other of violating the cease-fire. Residents said they still heard gunfire and explosions in different parts of the capital, Khartoum, particularly around the military’s headquarters and the Republican Palace. They said few people had ventured out, though there were crowds outside some bakeries. According to the latest UN numbers, at least 2,600 people have been injured so far, and the death toll has risen to 270. However, the actual number is likely much higher, as bomb blasts have prevented the collection of the injured, who "litter the streets," according to news reports.

The range of the RSF forces is estimated between 70,000 and 150,000 fighters, whereas the regular army has between 110,000 to 120,000 active-duty personnel. the Sudanese army has access to a broader range of weapons. The army's regular war equipment is better, it has helicopters and tanks. the RSF forces "are better equipped for city wars, as they have fast pick-ups with mounted machine guns.

The lives of the 5 million residents of Khartoum have been upended. Most people are taking shelter inside their homes without electricity in unrelenting heat for days. The city is seeing the worst of the fight with constant air strikes, tanks patrolling the streets and gunfire in densely populated areas. However, violence has also spread to the country such as the western region of Darfur.

Heavy fighting in the capital Khartoum continued on 22 April 2023 after Sudan's army and a rival paramilitary group agreed on a three-day truce at the end of Ramadan. More than 400 people have been killed and thousands more injured since violence erupted a week earlier. With the fighting in Sudan entering its second week, the nation's military agreed to coordinate evacuation efforts for diplomats and citizens from the US, UK, China and France. In a statement, the military said the Saudi diplomatic mission has already been evacuated. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) said they were ready to "partially" open "all airports" in Sudan to evacuate foreign citizens. However, it is not possible to verify which airports they control. Army general Burhan claimed that "all airports were under army control," except for the Khartoum airport and the southwestern Nyala airport.

Clashes between Sudanese troops and the Rapid Support Forces militia continued in Khartoum during the "ceasefire". Battles were reported near the presidential palace and international airport. Sudanese civilians sheltering from the violence are dealing with power outages and struggling to get basic necessities. A ship carrying people from 13 countries has arrived in Saudi Arabia, and the United States evacuated all embassy staffers and their families by helicopter from Khartoum. Two Japan Self-Defense Force transport planes left nearby Djibouti. They were expected to carry Japanese nationals out of Sudan. About 60 Japanese were currently in the countr. They were expected to travel from Khartoum to another location by land for the planned airlift. Germany said it had evacuated 311 people. France says it has transported 388 people to Djibouti, including two Japanese. One evacuation route is through the city of Port Sudan, about 700 kilometers northeast of the capital. The city has an airport.

About 700 UN, international NGOs and embassy staff and their dependents have reached Port Sudan by road. Dozens of UN internationally recruited and international NGO staff have already been evacuated from El Geneina and Zalingei to Chad while other operations are ongoing or planned. A small number of internationally recruited personnel, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Volker Perthes, will remain in Sudan and will continue to work towards a resolution to the current crisis and returning to the UN-mandated tasks.

Path to War

Under the Bashir regime, general elections for president and the National Assembly were scheduled to be held every five years. Under the Political Agreement and the constitutional declaration signed in 2019, elections were Page 20scheduled to be held in 2022, but the October 2020 signing of the Juba Peace Agreement and amendment to the constitutional framework postponed elections until 39 months after the signing, delaying planned elections until early 2024.

Sudanese Armed Forces Commander General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his allies seized control of the government on October 25, 2021. Burhan usurped the authority of a civilian-led transitional government formed in 2019 following a popular revolution that brought the 30-year regime of President Omar al-Bashir to an end. The 2021 takeover not only removed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok from his position and sent him into house arrest but resulted in the detention of several senior officials, the dissolution of the cabinet, and the declaration of a state of emergency. Burhan suspended implementation of articles of the country’s provisional constitutional declaration, adopted in August 2019, and instituted a military-controlled Sovereign Council to oversee governmental functions.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners or detainees; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious abuses in a conflict, including killings, abductions, physical abuse or punishment, and unlawful recruitment or use of child soldiers; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including threats of violence and acts of violence against journalists, censorship, and enforcement of criminal libel and slander laws; serious restrictions on internet freedom; substantial interference with the freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws on the organization, funding, or operation of nongovernmental and civil society organizations; serious government corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, including domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child, early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, and conflict-related sexual violence; laws criminalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons; and existence of the worst forms of child labor.

Large-scale protracted displacement continued to be a severe problem in Darfur and the Two Areas. Countrywide, there were more than 3.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) as of July 2022. The OCHA reported that more than 200,000 individuals were displaced during 2022 due to intercommunal violence and other armed conflict, particularly in Darfur and Blue Nile, as well as due to clashes in West and South Kordofan and Eastern Sudan States.

In October 2020 leaders of the civilian-led transitional government [CLTG] and several armed opposition groups signed the Juba Peace Agreement, intended to end nearly two decades of conflict in the country’s war-torn regions of Darfur and the Two Areas; however, implementation remained slow and uneven throughout the year. Violence increased around the country with sudden flareups of intercommunal fighting throughout the year, especially in Darfur, Blue Nile, Kassala, and Kordofan States. Before the military takeover, the CLTG took strong steps towards reckoning with the crimes perpetrated by the Bashir regime as well as addressing contemporary abuses. After the military takeover, these efforts largely ceased.

The Sovereign Council comprised Burhan, Rapid Support Forces Commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (aka “Hemedti”), three other general officers, and three signatories to the Juba Peace Agreement. The agreement was ratified in October 2020 to give new impetus to wide-ranging goals, including with respect to security, governance and transitional justice, and the appointment of signatories to senior government positions. The military government issued a decree in December 2021 to expand the arrest, search, and seizure powers of the country’s security forces, which upended the constitutional declaration’s prohibition against arbitrary arrest and detention.

Until October 2021, the Ministry of Interior held the primary responsibility for internal security. The Ministry of Interior had oversight of police agencies, the Ministry of Defense, and the General Intelligence Service. Ministry of Interior police agencies include the security police, special forces police, traffic police, and the combat-trained Central Reserve Police. Various elements of these police units were present throughout the country. The Ministry of Defense has a mandate to oversee all elements of the security services, including the Sudanese Armed Forces, Rapid Support Forces, Border Guards, and defense and military intelligence units; these forces are also charged with protecting sensitive government buildings and sites. On July 3, the first cohort of 2,000 soldiers of the Joint Security-Keeping Force graduated from Sudanese Armed Forces-organized training with a mandate to protect civilians in Darfur, consistent with the Juba Peace Agreement.

Civilian protesters continued demonstrating during the year against the military takeover, demanding full civilian rule. Security forces responded to some of these demonstrations with violence. In response to the October 2021 military takeover, prodemocracy civilian actors continued to organize demonstrations and strikes in Khartoum and across the country condemning the military’s actions and calling for full civilian rule. Resistance committees in Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North organized numerous large-scale peaceful protests, which were often met with violence by security forces, including the use of live ammunition.

The state of emergency continued until 29 May 2022, as did the temporary decree that gave expanded arrest authority to the General Intelligence Services, Sudanese Armed Forces, Rapid Support Forces, and police forces. These organizations retained the prerogative to conduct searches and seizures of contraband, to freeze financial assets, and to restrict the movement of individuals. These security forces also received immunity from prosecution for such actions performed during the state of emergency. General Burhan’s lifting of the state of emergency coincided with the release of more than 70 political detainees.

Persons arrested following demonstrations were routinely and severely beaten with pipes, sticks, and batons, and were kicked by security forces, including when already restrained. Severe beatings carried out by security forces at detention centers resulted in broken bones and one miscarriage. There were several reports of security forces committing sexual violence against women across the country, reportedly to discourage their participation in demonstrations.

On 12 September 2022, security forces posted at major intersections in Khartoum stopped vehicles and pedestrians and forcibly shaved young men’s heads and searched vehicles for contraband. There were credible reports that security forces targeted young men with long hair, whom they associated with prodemocracy protesters.

Government authority remained with the Sovereign Council headed by General Burhan and dominated by military members; the civilian members of the Sovereign Council named by Burhan in November 2021 were dismissed on 04 July 2022. Following the military takeover in October 2021, the Sovereign Council did not publicly hold anyone accountable for abuses and disbanded the committee aimed at identifying and reclaiming or confiscating assets that corrupt officials in the Bashir government had stolen.

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