Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir overthrown, citizens protest new military regime


Photo courtesy of WikiCommons Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at the opening of the 20th session of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development in 2009.

Photo courtesy of WikiCommons
Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at the opening of the 20th session of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development in 2009.

The Sudanese Armed Forces took over Sudan’s government on Thursday, April 11, ousting then-president Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan’s former president al-Bashir has been internationally condemned as a brutal dictator and a human rights abuser, whose 30-year consecutive rule has been marred by rounds of civil conflicts, global sanctions and economic meltdowns. Al-Bashir bears an international arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

His removal gave Sudanese citizens only a swift moment of joy. Their celebrating chants soon turned into dissenting cries as a new governing body took control of the country. Immediately following al- Bashir’s discharge, the government came under control of a newly formed military council led by defense minister Lieutenant General Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, a former confidant of al-Bashir who has also been widely accused of perpetrating war crimes and human rights abuses throughout the years. His rule is largely viewed as little more than an extension of al-Bashir’s.

The military council suspended the state constitution and declared a three-month state of emergency.

The council announced that it will keep control of the government for at least two years to oversee a “transi- tion of power” before general elections can take place, reported CNN on Saturday.

Formerly an army of cer, al-Bashir himself also seized power in a military coup in 1989 and embarked on a ruthless military dictatorship. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a leading organization of the protest against the ousted president, claimed the Thursday event would merely replicate the same “faces and institutions that our great people revolted against.” To Sudanese citizens, Thursday’s takeover was essentially a reminder of what happened three decades ago.

“[The current situation] is for us a coup, and it is not acceptable,” said Sara Abdelgalil, a spokeswoman for the SPA, according to the New York Times. “They are recycling the faces, and this will return us to where we have been.”

On Thursday, the night of the coup, protesters fol- lowing the SPA continued their sit-in outside military headquarters and their street protests despite the newly-implemented 10 p.m. curfew.

The following day, Auf stepped down as chief of the military council, and General Abdel Fattah Burhan, the general inspector of the armed forces, took the oath of of ce in his place.

Burhan has a cleaner record than the rest of Sudan’s military generals. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the general inspector is not known to be implicated in war crimes or wanted by international courts.

By Saturday, April 13, the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC), an activist coalition including SPA and other leaders of the Thursday protests, submit- ted a list of demands to the military. According to Al-Jazeera, the demands include the creation of a civilian government.

The protesting groups stated that civilian representatives should take part in the new governing council and that a civilian government should be established for civil administration. The delegation submitted names of suggested members on Sunday.

During the conference, the military council promised to “abolish all laws that restrict freedoms,” according to Reuters. But the SPA said in a statement that the meeting did not end in consensus. According to the SPA, the council declined some of the AFC’s key demands meant to secure democratic transition, including a restructuring of the country’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and the vetting of militia forces and “corrupt leaders” involved in past political crimes.

The SPA has called for protests to continue until the council delivers an adequate answer.

International relations major Sarah Painting ’20 is optimistic about future military-protester negotiations. “The military has shown willingness to listen to the people,” she said, referencing coup leader Auf standing down and Burhan’s promise to release political prisoners. However, she pointed out that if the military retains major political power, there would still be consequences.

“The proposed two years of military rule before a transition to civilian rule is concerning,” Painting said. “The people are calling for an immediate shift to democracy, and historically, we can see a trend of military leaders taking advantage of transitional periods after [an] authoritarian rule in order to stay in power.”

On Friday, the United Nations human rights of- ce demanded that Sudan cooperate with the ICC and hand al-Bashir over for international criminal trials. The military council which now rules Sudan replied that same day in a press conference that it “will prosecute deposed President Omar al-Bashir but will not extradite him.”

“While I believe that ousted President al-Bashir has committed crimes against humanity that warrant an ICC trial, I think the Sudanese should rst have the opportunity to try him in their own country,” Painting said. “This would respect the sovereignty of Sudan and show confidence in the country to hold itself accountable for past crimes. However, if the interim military government proves to be unreliable and cannot guarantee a fair trial and bring justice, then I think ICC has the right to step in.”