In December 2018, the Sudanese people began protesting government austerity measures, a move that quickly grew into a nationwide uprising calling for the removal of longtime President Omar al-Bashir. Following al-Bashir’s overthrow in April 2019, the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change signed a Constitutional Declaration that established a power-sharing agreement between the military and civilians that would lead the country for 39 months until transitional elections are held. This transitional government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Hamdok, has thus far focused its efforts on solving a crushing economic crisis and reaching a long-anticipated comprehensive peace agreement with rebel groups throughout Sudan. On October 3, 2020, after several delays, the transitional government finally signed an agreement with the largest of those groups. Despite this achievement, a few prominent rebel groups remain outside the peace process and the 39-month transitional timeline has restarted, thus delaying elections until late 2023 or early 2024. Nevertheless, the government has achieved significant progress toward comprehensive peace in Sudan.
With funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) began programming in Sudan in April 2020 to support government authorities and election stakeholders with electoral advisory expertise on priority topics for holding credible transitional elections and on approaches to effective, transparent and participatory political and electoral reform processes. While this initial program, “Supporting Sudan’s Democratic Transition,” will conclude in November 2020, it has provided analysis of the electoral environment and created relationships in Sudan that will inform a second USAID-funded program, “Improving Electoral and Political Process for Change in Sudan” (IEPP). Under the IEPP program, IFES will continue to support Sudan’s democratic transition at least until November 2023. IFES’ principle objective is to strengthen governing institutions’ capacity to administer credible and genuine elections and a successful democratic transition. While working toward this objective, IFES will pay special attention to the inclusion of marginalized communities, particularly youth, women, internally displaced people, refugees, people with disabilities and people in geographically remote areas in the electoral process.
IFES previously worked in Sudan from 2009-13 under a USAID project supporting the men and women of the national and state-level election management bodies in conducting national elections, the Southern Sudan referendum on self-determination and the Southern Kordofan state elections.