Street scene in the Sudanese capital Khartoum

Political situation First reform efforts accomplished

After three decades of dictatorship and economic isolation, the new interim government is moving the Sudan toward peace, democracy and an opening up of the country's economy. First reforms have been undertaken, for instance within the legal system.

As a result of these reforms, female genital mutilation and public floggings have been outlawed, and the death penalty which was previously in force for minors, for those convicted of rejecting Islam and for those engaging in homosexual acts has been repealed, as has the ban on alcohol for non-Muslims.

The government has expressly affirmed its commitment to respecting, supporting and protecting human rights. Unlike the Bashir regime – which suppressed political opposition, free media reporting and human rights work –, Sudan's new government is making an effort to establish contact with civil society and non-governmental organisations.

High risk of escalation

The military and the security forces continue to wield a large amount of power. Supporters of the old regime still hold influential positions both in the private sector and in public administration. It is therefore uncertain whether the desired political change will be successful and whether the country will remain stable.

The level of public debt is extremely high. And corruption is widespread. Hence, in the 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index drawn up by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Sudan ranks 174th out of 180 countries assessed. Disputes over the use of the Nile River's water and the precise position of the country's frontier could potentially lead to a conflict flaring up between the Sudan and its neighbour, Ethiopia.

On 3 October 2020, the interim government concluded a peace agreement in Juba with most of the armed opposition groups. The agreement is an important step towards creating lasting peace. However, a few armed groups are still active and have yet to sign up to the peace deal. Since the beginning of 2021, an international political mission, UNITAMS, has been supporting the Sudan in its efforts at democratisation.

Former head of state in court trial

Former leader Omar al Bashir was arrested and put on trial in Sudan's capital Khartoum. In that first trial, he was sentenced in late 2019 to two years in prison for corruption and money laundering. Since July 2020, he has been on trial again – this time for carrying out a coup d'état in 1989. A judgment has not yet been handed down. Bashir also faces rendition to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The ICC issued a warrant for Bashir's arrest – while he was still in office – for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in the Darfur region.