Sudan: three decades under Omar al-Bashir

Saturday February 23 2019

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech to the nation on February 22, 2019, at the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum. PHOTO | ASHRAF SHAZLY | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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Here are key dates in Sudan since President Omar al-Bashir, who Friday announced a nationwide state of emergency following two months of deadly anti-government protests, came to power three decades ago.

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 Mr Turabi from the ruling circle.

Darfur

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

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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 Mr Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, and a year later for genocide. Bashir denies the charges.

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.

South Sudan

In 2010, Mr 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.

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.

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

Oil

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

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.

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.

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 price

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 Mr 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".

Crackdown

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

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