Not sure this really belongs here; between the ousting of the Algerian and Sudanese president respectively, it might warrant a dedicated North Africa or Arab Spring Mk. II thread.
Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir is ousted by military after 30 years in power
April 11 at 12:23 PM
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan’s president was deposed Thursday the same way he came to power 30 years ago — in a military takeover.
Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s downfall, however, did not come with the flying bullets or middle-of-the-night escapes many expected from a leader who survived numerous past crises. Instead, the biggest peaceful demonstrations in a generation precipitated his ouster, though the hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Khartoum received the announcement of new military leadership Thursday with a mixture of disappointment and disbelief.
Sudan’s defense minister, Awad Ibn Auf, declared on state radio the takeover of a two-year transition government administered by the military with him in charge, adding that the constitution would be suspended, a three-month state of emergency would be put in place and a curfew imposed.
Sudan’s state media reported that all political prisoners, including leaders of the protests, were in the process of being released from jails around the country. But protesters were angered that their demands for a civilian government were not met and vowed not to let the curfew end their massive sit-in in the capital, Khartoum.
“Did we go through all this trouble for this?” asked Khalid Osman, a protester at the demonstration Thursday. “It’s the same story.”
The protests were sparked in December by price hikes on basic goods but also reflected a deep-rooted desire for the replacement of Bashir’s regime. Bashir is accused of committing crimes against humanity and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region and has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.
Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese spent this week in Khartoum’s streets, singing, dancing and waving banners imprinted with hopeful slogans calling for the rebuilding of their country. The protests were initially organized by the Sudanese Professionals Association, a group that drew many doctors, lawyers and students.
The protesters’ demands included Bashir’s prosecution and justice for protesters who had been killed. But many said Thursday that their hope was transformed into anger by Ibn Auf’s speech.
Ibn Auf was a key military leader during Bashir’s suppression of rebels in Darfur and is unlikely to give Bashir up for prosecution. The U.S. government also imposed sanctions against him in 2007 for his role in Darfur.
“They just replaced one thief with another,” said Ahmad Ibrahim, a young protester sitting on the ground under the sweltering heat near the sit-in outside of the army headquarters. “We are going to keep pushing until all of our demands are met.” His friends nodded in agreement.
The Sudanese Professionals Association rejected what it called “a coup to reproduce the faces and institutions that our great people revolted against.”
“Hold the squares and the roads that we liberated by force and courage until the handover of authority to a civilian transitional government that expresses the forces of the revolution,” it wrote on Twitter. “The ones who destroyed the country and killed its people are trying to steal every drop of blood and sweat that our great people shed in the revolution that has shaken the throne of tyranny.”
Bashir’s departure capped a season of protest and political churn in North Africa that recalled the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that forced autocratic leaders out of power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. In Algeria, protests that started in February aimed at preventing its ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, from seeking another term in office ended up removing North Africa’s longest-serving leader.
But amid the euphoria in Algeria and Sudan, demonstrators have appeared more keenly aware of the looming dangers than their counterparts eight years earlier, vowing to remain in the streets until their broad array of demands were met.
The example of Egypt had provided a particularly dire warning. After the fall of Hosni Mubarak, a rocky, two-year transition resulted in a military coup led by Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, and a government more repressive than any in the country’s recent history.
Egypt appeared supportive of Bashir’s ouster Thursday. The two countries had tense relations in recent years because of a border dispute and Sudan’s support for an Ethiopian dam project that Egypt opposes. An Egyptian foreign ministry statement Thursday pledged Cairo’s “full support for the brotherly choices of the Sudanese people and their free will to shape the future.”