Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Sudan: highlights of Bashir's three decades rule

Sudan: highlights of Bashir's three decades rule


President Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years, was on Thursday overthrown in a coup by the armed forces which announced a two-year period of military rule to be followed by elections.

In an address on state television, Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf said Bashir, 75, was under arrest in a “safe place” and a military council was now running the country.

During his 30-year rule, Bashir was a master at playing rival factions among security services, the military, Islamists and armed tribes off against each other. But he underestimated the anger of young Sudanese men and women demanding an end to economic hardships.

Bashir ultimately faced almost daily defiance in towns and cities across Sudan despite a crackdown by security forces using teargas and sometimes live ammunition, in which dozens of people have been killed.

In this article, we look at key highlights and dates of Bashir’s reign since he came to power three decades ago.

1989: coup

In June 1989. army brigadier Bashir seizes power in a coup backed by Islamist ideologue Hassan al-Turabi.

Sudan then hosts radical Islamists, including Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden who remains until 1996.

A leadership power struggle erupts in 1999 and Bashir forces Turabi from the ruling circle.

2003: rebellion in Darfur

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

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

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

2005: 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.

2010: 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.

2011: 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.

2012: 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.

2013: 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.

2016: Darfur referendum

Darfur holds a referendum in April 2016 on whether to unify its five states, a long-standing demand of rebels seeking greater autonomy.

The poll is boycotted by the opposition and criticised internationally, with the result backing the division of the region.

In August, negotiations fail between the regime and rebels on a cessation of hostilities in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

The following month Amnesty says government forces used suspected chemical weapons in 2016 in Darfur, killing scores of civilians. Khartoum denies the allegations.

In November, Sudan hikes fuel prices by around 30 percent, sparking new nationwide strikes.

2017: 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”.

2018: 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.

December 2018: current wave of protests begins

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.

April 11, 2019: Bashir steps down

Having withered several storms including armed rebellions, economic crises and attempts by the West to make him a pariah, Bashir was forced to step down by the military on Thursday after popular protests.

The minister of production and economic resources in North Darfur, Adel Mahjoub Hussein, told the Dubai-based al-Hadath TV that “there are consultations to form a military council to take over power after President Bashir stepped down”.

Tens of thousands of people danced and chanted anti-Bashir slogans in the streets of Khartoum.

Humble beginnings

Bashir was born on Jan. 1, 1944 to a poor farming family in Hosh Bannaga, a small village consisting mainly of mud houses and dusty streets on the eastern bank of the Nile River, some 150 km (93 miles) north of the capital Khartoum.

He has often played up his humble beginnings. In January, he repeated a story he told in 2013 of how he broke a tooth while carrying concrete at a construction site where he worked as a student to pay for his education.

Bashir said he refused a silver tooth implant when he joined the military because he wanted to remember that incident whenever he looked in the mirror.

As a young officer in the parachute regiment, he joined the armed wing of the Islamist Movement, which broke away from the Muslim Brotherhood and has ruled Sudan since Bashir took office.


View more