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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Sudan: nearly three decades under Bashir


Here are key dates in Sudan since Omar al-Bashir came to power almost 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, which has largely diminished in recent years, has killed some 300,000 people and displaced nearly 2.5 million, the United Nations says.

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.

Read more: Human rights violation in Sudan in the name of Sharia’h

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 a referendum overwhelmingly approves independence. Around the same time, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North launches insurgencies in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Read more: Sudan: World’s last ‘White Rhino’ dies aged 45

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 badly.

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 five-state 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 International 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.

Read more: 22 children dead in Nile boat accident in Sudan

2017: US Embargo Ends

In October 2017 the United States ends its 20-year-old trade embargo against Sudan, imposed over Khartoum’s alleged support for Islamist militant groups. But Washington does not drop it from its blacklist of “state sponsors of terrorism”.

2018: Food Price Protests

In early 2018 demonstrations erupt over soaring food prices, notably of bread which has almost doubled. They are swiftly dispersed and opposition leaders and activists are 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 deadly demonstrations continue into 2019, with some political groups calling for a “new regime”.

© Agence France-Presse