Goodbye Omar al-Bashir: Who is Sudan's ousted dictator?

Goodbye Omar al-Bashir: Who is Sudan's ousted dictator?
After four months of deadly protests Sudan's longtime leader Omar al-Bashir has been forced out of power in a military coup.
4 min read
11 April, 2019
75-year-old is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes [Getty]

After four months of deadly protests Sudan's longtime leader Omar al-Bashir has been forced out of power in a military coup.

Here is a brief look at the career of the 75-year-old, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide in the conflict-wracked western region of Darfur.

Sudan's longest-serving president joined the armed forces while he was a teenager and quickly rose up the ranks.

As a brigadier he led a military takeover in 1989 backed by Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi.

The career soldier and his Islamist allies swept into power amid a second civil war between the north and southern rebels. Millions were killed in the conflict that lasted over two decades.

Less than a year later, Bashir faced his first challenge. A group of 30 officers loyal to the deposed prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi were arrested for allegedly plotting a countercoup.

A military court found the servicemen guilty of trying to overthrow the regime and they were hastily executed.

In 1995, the Bashir regime came up against the first street protests against economic woes that were crushed in a violent crackdown.

In 1999, a power struggle erupted between Bashir and his key ally Turabi, leading to the regime forcing the Islamist out of the ruling circle.

Turabi went on to become one of Bashir's fiercest critics and called for the leader's overthrow.

- Darfur rebellion -

In 2003, a rebellion erupts in the vast western region of Darfur, which complains of economic and political marginalisation.

The conflict killed 300,000 people and displaced nearly 2.5 million, according to UN figures, before largely diminishing.

The International Criminal Court in 2009 indicted Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, and a year later for genocide. Bashir denies the charges.

- Civil war ends -

Khartoum signs a peace treaty in 2005 with southern rebels after a north-south civil war that lasted more than two decades, leaving two million people dead and a further four million displaced.

The agreement schedules a referendum on independence for 2011.

- Vote boycotted -

In 2010, Bashir is elected in the first multiparty election since 1986, but voting is boycotted by the opposition and criticised abroad.

He is re-elected in 2015.

- South Sudan born -

In July 2011, South Sudan breaks away, six months after the scheduled referendum overwhelmingly approves independence.

The Sudan People's Liberation Army-North launches insurgencies in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

- War for oil -

In early 2012, fighting breaks out along the border between Sudan and South Sudan over oil fields in an area claimed by both.

South Sudan shuts off oil production for more than a year, hitting the economies of both countries.

- Deadly demonstrations -

Khartoum lifts petrol subsidies in late 2013, causing prices to rocket by more than 60 percent and sparking broad public anger.

Demonstrations turn into anti-government protests and the security forces respond with force. Amnesty International says more than 200 people were shot dead, while the government puts the toll at dozens.

- US embargo ends -

In October 2017, the United States ends its 20-year-old trade embargo against Sudan, imposed over alleged support for Islamist militant groups.

But Washington does not drop Sudan from its blacklist of "state sponsors of terrorism".

- Bread protests -

In early 2018, demonstrations erupt over soaring food prices, notably of bread. They are swiftly dispersed and opposition leaders and activists rounded up.

In August, the ruling party nominates Bashir as its candidate for the 2020 presidential election, despite the constitution having a two-term limit.

On December 19, protests begin in several towns after the government triples the price of bread, soon turning into rolling nationwide anti-government rallies.

The demonstrations continue into 2019, with some political groups calling for a "new regime".

Authorities are accused of a harsh crackdown, including using live ammunition, with Human Rights Watch saying at least 51 people have been killed since the start, although the official toll is around 31.

A top US official warns that talks to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism could be detailed unless the authorities rein in their crackdown on protesters.

On February 22, Bashir declares a year-old state of emergency across Sudan and dissolves the government.

On April 11, the Sudanese military removes Bashir from power and detains him after after deadly force failed to end four months of nationwide protests for his ousting.

Click on our Special Contents tab below to read more on Sudan