Sudan’s Unfinished Democracy

The Promise and Betrayal of a People's Revolution

Part of the African Arguments series
April 2022 9781787385351 280pp
EU Customers


This book tells the story of the Sudanese revolution of 2019; of how it succeeded in bringing down the long-standing rule of President Omar al-Bashir; and of the troubled transitional civilian-led government that was installed in his place. It sets the scrupulously non-violent uprising in its historical context, showing how the protesters drew upon the precedents of earlier civic revolutions and adapted their practices to the challenges of the al-Bashir regime. The book also explores how that regime was brought to its knees through its inability to manage the intersecting economic and political crises caused by the secession of South Sudan and the loss of oil revenue, alongside the uncontrolled expansion of a sprawling security apparatus.

The civilian protesters called for–and expected–a total transformation of Sudanese politics, but they found themselves grappling with a still-dominant cabal of generals, who had powerful regional backers and a strong hold over the economy. Internally divided, and faced with a deepening economic crisis, the civilian government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has found itself in office, but with less and less real power, unable to change the conduct of political business as usual.



‘An outstanding analysis of politics in modern Sudan, providing readers with behind-the-scenes details of the 2019 revolution and the struggles that Sudan continues to face.’ — Mark Fathi Massoud, Professor of Politics and Legal Studies at UC Santa Cruz, and author of Law’s Fragile State: Colonial, Authoritarian, and Humanitarian Legacies in Sudan

‘In its passion and incisive, in-the-moment analysis, this book recalls Marx’s famous The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. An ideal case study for introducing students to how African states actually work, and to how misguided external attempts to influence or help can be.’ — Donald L. Donham, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Anthropology, UC Davis, and co-editor of States of Violence:  Politics, Youth, and Memory in Contemporary Africa

‘Detailed, rich and historically embedded, Sudan’s Unfinished Democracy offers a unique and thorough background to better understand this country’s contemporary politics and power shifts. It was a privilege to read such a wonderful and timely book.’ — Griet Steel, Assistant Professor of International Development Studies, University of Utrecht

‘Taking the reader close to the ground and under the skin of Sudan’s popular revolution, this essential and timely book puts the promise and peril of a remarkable African struggle for civic democracy into sharp historical perspective.’ — Sharath Srinivasan, David and Elaine Potter Associate Professor in Governance and Human Rights, University of Cambridge, and author of When Peace Kills Politics: International Intervention and Unending Wars in the Sudans


Willow Berridge PhD is a lecturer in History at Newcastle University.

Justin Lynch is a writer and researcher living in Sudan.  

Raga Makawi is an editor and Sudanese democracy activist living in London.

Alex de Waal is Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation.

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