Sudan – recent history

In 2003 an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed hailing from Libya and northern Chad were armed by the al-Bashir government of Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, to push the African farmers off their lands. The background was a civil war between the Khartoum national government and two rebel groups in Darfur: the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army. In April 2003, the rebel groups attacked the military airfield and kidnapped an air force general. The government launched a counterattack, arming the Janjaweed resulting in a genocide of mainly the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes in Darfur. In 2013, the United Nations estimated that up to 300,000 people had been killed during the genocide, though the conflict in Sudan’s Western Darfur Region remained ongoing for many years (until 2016 when the government allegedly used chemical weapons against the local population in Darfur, leading to millions of people being displaced). On December 19, 2018, a series of demonstrations broke out in several Sudanese cities, due in part to spiraling costs of living and deterioration of economic conditions at all levels of society. The protests quickly turned from demands for urgent economic reforms into demands for Omar al-Bashir to step down. The first mass protests after the 22 February state-of-emergency occured on the weekend of 6-7th April 2019; as the protests unfolded, the military turned against the security forces and on the morning of 11 April 2019, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was removed from power by the Sudanese Armed Forces amid ongoing protests after holding the office for nearly 30 years.

The Sudanese military dissolved the cabinet and the National Legislature, and announced a three-month state of emergency, to be followed by a two-year transition period.[source] Lt. Gen. Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was both the defense minister of Sudan and the Vice President of Sudan, declared himself the de facto Head of State, announced the suspension of the country’s constitution, and imposed a curfew from 10 pm to 4 am, effectively ordering the dissolution of the ongoing protests.[source] Along with the National Legislature and national government, state governments and legislative councils in Sudan were dissolved as well.[source]

State media reported that all political prisoners, including anti-Bashir protest leaders, were being released from jail.[source] Al-Bashir’s National Congress party responded by announcing that they would hold a rally supporting the ousted president.[source] Soldiers also raided the offices of the Islamic Movement, the main ideological wing of the National Congress, in Khartoum.[source]

On 12 April, the ruling military government agreed to shorten the length of its rule to “as early as a month” and transfer control to a civilian government if negotiations could result in a new government being formed.[source] That evening, Auf stepped down as head of the military council and made Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan, who serves as general inspector of the armed forces, his successor. This came following protests over his decision not to extradite Bashir to the International Criminal Court. The resignation was regarded as a “triumph” by the protestors, who were overjoyed. Burhan is considered to have a cleaner record than the rest of al-Bashir’s generals and is not wanted or implicated for war crimes by any international court. He was one of the generals who had reached out to protesters during their week-long encampment near the military headquarters, meeting with them face to face and listening to their views.[source]

a Landrights campaign for Britain

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