Years of economic struggle, dictatorship, police and military brutality and the stifling of dissent in Sudan by the Omar al-Bashir government have been cut short on Thursday after four months of protest yielded results.
The news of the ousting of President al-Bashir, who has ruled for 30 years, was received with jubilation, dancing and chanting after the defence minister announced that the army will oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections.
Awad Ibn Ouf said on state TV that a three-month state of emergency was being put in place. He confirmed that Bashir was under house arrest with a number of aides at the presidential palace as the army has deployed troops to protect the defence ministry and other major roads and bridges in Khartoum where tens of thousands of protesters had camped for five days until the regime is totally toppled and those arrested are released.
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As a united force, Sudanese citizens from diverse backgrounds joined the protest – dubbed the Sudanese Revolution – which started on December 19, 2018, demanding the resignation of the president as a result of the increasing costs of living in the country beleaguered with a cash crisis for a better part of the year. The crisis has seen an increase in the price of basic products including bread.
The protesters – including opposition politicians, activists, civil society, judiciary, students, public sector workers etc – grew in number and started calling for the end of the Bashir regime. Bashir is one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents, serving the country since he took over in a coup in 1989 and was set to continue leading after the ruling party made a constitutional amendment to allow him to run again in 2020.
He is also accused of war crimes in the western Darfur region following the civil war between Sudan and South Sudan that culminated into the secession of the latter in 2011. Bashir became the first head of state to be accused of such crimes and an international arrest warrant against him is still active.
At the beginning of the protest, at least 37 people were killed by security forces who aggressively tried to quell the uprising, reports Amnesty International. A number of opposition officials, including Sudanese Congress Party leader Omar el-Digeir and senior leader of Sudan’s Communist Party, Siddiq Youssef, and other activists were arrested.
The government had announced in December after pressure from the protesters that it would carry out economic reforms to ensure a decent living for the citizens. Despite the bill passed by the parliament resulting in the devaluation of the Sudanese pound and cutting of subsidies on essential goods, inflation kept on rising.
The government also shut down a number of diplomatic missions to cut costs and Bashir dissolved the government, named a new central bank governor and instituted a package of reforms, they didn’t work.
The crisis has been attributed to the loss of revenue following the loss of three-quarters of the country’s oil resources after South Sudan’s secession in 2011.
The ruling party accused the left-wing parties of igniting the protest. Bashir also claimed that the protest was the machination of “infidels and foreign stooges”. He imposed curfews and declared a state of emergency. He also got the support of the military as well as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who expressed his keenness in the stability of the country.
However, all these reactions and support the government sought did not change the objective of the protesters who kept pushing to realize their goal.
This is a major victory in Sudan’s long years of protests that date as far back as 1964 when what is currently known as Sudan’s October Revolution saw the ouster of Ibrahim Abboud.
Other protests took place in 2013 when more than 200 people were killed and in 2016 when the country went on strike and participated in civil disobedience over increased costs of electricity, medication and fuel.
This is also a victory for Africa as the continent is doing away with dictatorial regimes that have ruled for decades and become clueless in developing their nations.
Most recent African leaders whose long-time regimes were toppled include Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria (2019), Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (2017), Yahya Jammeh of Gambia (2017), Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso (2014), and Francois Bozize of the Central African Republic (2013).