By Duane Paul Murphy
The nation of Sudan made history on April 11, 2019, as the country’s armed military forces ousted its 30-year ruling authoritarian leader, President Omar Al-Bashir, in a coup d’etat. Free and fair democratic elections are expected to occur sometime between 2019 and 2020.
According to sources from France24, between the day of the military-backed coup and the day after the coup on April 12, Lieutenant General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf — former chairperson of the Sudanese Transitional Military Council — was briefly interim president. After Auf, another lieutenant general, Abdel Fattah Abdel Rahman Burhan, succeeded him as the temporary head of state and government.
Days after the coup on April 17, reports from local Sudanese journalists, activists, and government officials reported that Al-Bashir had been moved to a maximum-security prison and is possibly in solitary confinement with armed security in Khobar, a neighborhood in the capital city of Khartoum.
Before Al-Bashir’s removal from political power by the military junta, grassroot-powered protests across cities such as Khartoum started in December, 2018 over rising economic costs of living and human rights abuses as well as political corruption. The protests, which continue until future elections and reforms have taken place, have resulted in about 60 civilian deaths and more than 800 civilian arrests, mostly caused by local security forces.
Al-Bashir is widely known as one of Africa’s most authoritarian leaders. Ruling the Northern African country since 1989, Al-Bashir fought against armed southern Sudanese militant rebels during a 21-year second civil war that started in 1983 and ended in 2005 with almost two million casualties. Before the end of the Second Sudanese War in 2005, Al-Bashir, the national armed forces, and pro-government Arab militants led a genocidal conflict against the ethnic Fur people starting in 2003. The Darfur Conflict is still continuing to this day with more than 300,000 died and almost 3,000,000 displaced. The effects of the war in Darfur have intertwined with regional conflicts in the states South South Kordofan and Blue Nile starting in 2011, the same year South Sudan officially gained independence from northern Sudan.
Students on campus majoring in politics expressed cautious optimism for the coup in Sudan.
“If the Sudanese people want to avoid another presidential dictatorship, they’ll need to keep a close eye on the temporary military government,” said junior politics major Michael Klein.
Sudan is not alone in recent uprisings against authoritarian governments in continental Africa; Between February and April 2019, civilian protests across Algeria forced the resignation of their longtime leader, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. After the 2016 elections in the western African country of Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh, who led the country for 20 years since 1996, accepted the democratic results and left office the following year in January 2017. In 2018, military forces in Zimbabwe, pressured by civilian uprisings, removed former pro-independence leader Robert Mugabe out of office after 30 years in political power. Countries such Burkina Faso in Western Africa and Angola in South-Central Africa followed similar suits.