Sudan: Relating Identity Politics and Cyclical Violence

At A Glance:

Following months of protests since al-Bashir’s removal from power, there has been some semblance of hope in Sudan following the signing of a power-sharing agreement in July 2019 between the leaders of the pro-democracy movement and the transitional military council, the latter running the country in the absence of a new President. However, a key missing element of the agreement was how to account for the violence that marred the protest period. According to doctors close to the movement[1], 246 people have been killed across Sudan since the beginnings of the protests back in December 2018, though official figures are smaller. 


Unfortunately, there is a sense of resignation and expectation that the political movements in Sudan are to be accompanied by violence, especially given the history of conflict in Darfur, South Sudan and the various historical uprisings and coups in the country. This paper suggests that there is one particular factor that has exacerbated tensions and divisions within Sudan, and has consequently allowed violence to continue to be expressed during political events in Sudan, and that is the issue of identity politics. Rather than exploring the difficulties and misconceptions with this particular conceptual apparatus, this paper will focus on particular aspects relevant to this context; state-run ethnically-driven militias and Special Forces, historical marginalization of specific linguistic and religious groups along ethnic lines, and the prospects for prolonged peace in Sudan, given the deep divisions fostered between the Sudanese people.


Read Full Article Here (PDF)


[2] UN Security Council Resolution 1556 (2004).



[5] Heather J. Sharkey. (2007) “Arab Identity and Ideology in Sudan: The Politics of Language, Ethnicity and Race”. African Affairs. 107/426. 21-43.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] George W. Shepherd Jn. (1966) “National Integration and the Southern Sudan”. The Journal of Modern African Studies. 4/2. 193-212.

[9] Elke Grawert. (2010) After the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan. Woolbridge: James Curry.