After thirty years of autocratic rule, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir has been removed from power by the nation’s military and arrested. Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf announced al-Bashir’s arrest and that a military council will now run the nation. A two year period of military rule is being instituted, and will be followed by presidential elections. The military is apparently backing this transition to democracy, however, it must be remembered that power corrupts. Therefore, it’s quite uncertain whether these elections will ever materialize, or if this is merely a power grab by the military. Auf also announced the a state of national emergency is now in effect, along with a ceasefire, and suspension of the constitution. Sudanese airspace will be closed for the next 24 hours, and all border crossing points are closed.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, responsible for organizing recent protests against Bashir, has rejected the defense minister’s plans. It has called on protesters to remain outside of the defense ministry. Demonstrations calling for Bashir’s removal have been widespread across the country since December, 2018. Economic problems, and social issues also contributed to the growth of the demonstrations. Fuel and cash shortages in Sudan have become commonplace, and the government’s attempt to raise bread prices served as a catalyst for the protests.
Sudan has been down this road before. Peaceful popular uprisings brought about the removal of military leaders in 1964, and 1985. The main difference this time is the absence of a road map on the part of the coup leaders. Ibn Auf appears to be winging it, and this fact leads to questions about when, or even how, the intended elections and transition to democracy will ever come about.