Protests Continue Despite Ousting of Sudanese President
Protesters reacted jubilantly to the announcement that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had been ousted in a military coup. Celebrations began, and soldiers deserted their posts to dance among the people, reports the New York Times. The ousting came after months of civilian-led demonstrations and innumerable calls for revolution. This signals an end to 30 years of autocratic rule and al-Bashir’s bloodstained legacy. However, the mood quickly soured when protesters realized that a member of al-Bashir’s own regime, First Vice President Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, was chosen as the head of the transitional council, effectively replacing al-Bashir. However, the next day, Ibn Auf stepped down, naming Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Adelrahman Burhan as the new leader.
Ibn Auf addressed the nation on state-run television on April 11, declaring the suspension of the constitution and the dissolution of the government. He announced the institution of a two-year transition government, guided by a military council and headed by Ibn Auf himself, reports the Sudan Tribune. He demanded the release of all political prisoners, called for the establishment of a democratic constitution, and instituted a month-long curfew. He also spoke to al-Bashir’s whereabouts, confirming he was safe yet detained. Macy Uustal Ibn Auf was sworn in on that same day.
This ends al-Bashir’s decades-long rule of Sudan. He himself came to power in a 1989 military coup when the country was embattled in a civil war between the north and the south, according to BBC. During this time, he was an army commander charged with leading the fight against the south. While this conflict was happening, another one was occurring in Darfur in the west. The International Criminal Court has accused al-Bashir of orchestrating war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Darfur conflict, which left hundreds of thousands dead.
Sudan’s demonstrations began in December over the skyrocketing prices of bread, but this widespread resentment was soon channeled into a movement advocating for the replacement of al-Bashir and an overhaul of his government. The Sudanese Professional Association, the organization that planned these rallies, advocated for one “sole demand” of ending “the regime’s 30 years of dictatorship.”
Amnesty International reports that security forces have been violently cracking down on protests since the December protests, firing tear gas and stun grenades at demonstrators and killing numerous people.
Many have rejected defense minister Ibn Auf ’s authority and have decried the new military government as too similar to the one they revolted against. Both al-Bashir and Ibn Auf have been accused of perpetrating war crimes in Darfur, a western region of Sudan. To demonstrate disregard for the new military government’s supposed authority, protesters have remained in place, already breaking Ibn Auf ’s newly instituted curfew. Over Twitter, the Sudanese Professional Association encouraged protesters to break curfew, writing “stay put and guard your revolution,” adding, “to comply with the curfew is to recognize the clone rescue government.”
The protesters’ efforts have not gone unnoticed, it seems. Soon after the coup, Ibn Auf announced his decision to step down, naming Lieutenant General Burhan as his replacement. Burhan announced the “restructuring of state institutions” and promised to “uproot the regime” in a televised address on April 13. He also confirmed the release of jailed protesters, ended the curfew, and dissolved all provincial governments.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said, “People are celebrating on the streets; they are saying that they managed to topple President Omar al-Bashir after four months of protests and less than 48 hours after the military council took over, they managed to bring down Ibn Auf, too.