Sudan: Military oust ‘tyrant’ president – but battle is far from over for the people | World News
According to the Sudanese defence ministry, the country’s long-time president and scourge of the international community, Omar al Bashir, has been arrested and removed from power.
The announcement was made on television by the defence minister, Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, and he was careful to say that he was acting on behalf of the people.
Over the past week, hundreds of thousands of citizens in the capital Khartoum – and dozens of other communities – have been busy calling for a popular revolution.
They have had to brave the heat and the sometimes violent tactics of the riot police and the security services, but it looks like they have been victorious.
The defence minister said the military will resume control for two years as part of a transitional arrangement that will “pave the way for the people”.
The demonstrations began in December after prices for basic commodities skyrocketed – the price of bread and petrol tripled and inflation hit 70%.
In recent days, the protesters changed tactics by occupying the road in front of the military’s flashy headquarters in the capital Khartoum.
It was a clever manoeuvre that the military command could not ignore.
When members of particular units in the air force and marines committed themselves to defend the protesters, the generals were forced to make a choice – and remove their supreme commander from power.
Many here in Africa are surprised that Bashir has been removed without mass violence and bloodshed, for the 75-year-old has earned a reputation as a tenacious dictator.
He grabbed power in a coup in 1989 and has held on through a multitude of internal and international crises.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity committed in the Darfur region in the mid-2000s.
Support from the military was key to his longevity in office and he has tried to repay the favour.
In February, when he announced a national state of emergency, he replaced the country’s civilian governors with senior officers from the army and intelligence agency.
But his new appointments have not saved him and his friends in the military did not have the stomach to disperse the protesters with lethal force.
Now, the streets of Khartoum are the military’s problem and their leaders will have to reason with the people who have organised the demonstrations – a group of teachers, lawyers and doctors from the “Sudanese Professionals Association” have outflanked an infamous tyrant.
Still, they have not won this battle – something the association seems to have accepted.
“We assert that the people of Sudan will not accept anything less than a civil transitional authority composed of a patriotic group of experts who were not involved with the tyrannical regime,” it said.
The danger for those who have orchestrated Bashir’s removal is this: they may have replaced one dictator for another, in the form of the military.
Nonetheless, their achievement will resonate around the continent, for Africa is full of “big man” leaders like Bashir who break election rules, inflict poor governance and generally overstay their welcome.
A fast growing and youthful populace on this continent are increasingly reluctant to wait around for an ageing, incompetent elite, and the people of Sudan – like those in Algeria who forced the stroke-inflicted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power – have shown themselves ready to act.
Defence minister Ibn Auf and the folks down at military headquarters better take note.