Spearheaded by the Sudanese Professionals Association, one of Africa’s biggest and most strategically important countries, erupted on 19 December 2018 in the eastern city of Atbara after a government decision to triple the price of bread, but quickly evolved into nationwide demonstrations against Bashir’s rule.
Mr. Omar al- Bashir seized power in a military coup on 30th June 1989, amid a long civil war between Sudan’s north and south. At the rank of a colonel in the Sudanese Army, al-Bashir led a group of army officers in ousting the unstable coalition government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi in a bloodless military coup.
Under al-Bashir’s leadership, the new military government suspended political parties and introduced an Islamic legal code on the national level. He then became Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation (a newly established body with legislative and executive powers for what was described as a transitional period), and assumed the posts of chief of state, prime minister, chief of the armed forces, and minister of defense.
On 16 October 1993, al-Bashir’s powers increased when he appointed himself President of the country, and disbanded all other rival political parties. He was later elected president (with a five-year term) in the 1996 national election, where he was the only candidate by law to run for election. Since then, H.E Bashir has been winning elections amidst allegations of vote rigging.
On 11 April 2019, the military of Sudan announced that H.E Omar Al-Bashir had been ousted and arrested, however, demonstrators quickly rejected a plan that called for a transitional Military Council to hold power for the next two years, after which elections would be held.
Topics of discussion:
1. The fall of H.E Omar Al-Bashir: Cuts to bread and fuel subsidies sparked demonstrations in the east over living standards, but the anger soon spread to the capital, Khartoum. The lifting of most sanctions in 2017 failed to help the country, which had lost most of its oil fields when South Sudan became independent in 2011.
2. Power maneuvers by military factions after coup in Sudan: According to Willow Berridge, a scholar on Sudan at Newcastle University, Bashir was the months before his ouster in talks with the Qataris and Saudis for more economic relief, trying to play the two regional rivals off one another. It is not clear what the role of Washington is in this entire affair but given its history of working “behind the scenes”, it is not easy to rule in or rule out Washington’s influence.