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BAGHDAD: Maj-Gen Ahmad Hassan Al-Baker was unanimously elected President today in place of Gen Abdel Rahman Aref who was on his way to exile in an unknown country after his regime was overthrown during the night [July 17] in a bloodless pro-Ba’athist military coup d’etat which promised changes in the Arab League, oil and minority policies, and a betterment of the Armed Forces, according to Radio Baghdad.

According to earlier reports, the Command Council of the Revolution, which had seized power from the National Council for the Revolutionary Command, also dismissed the Premier, Lt-Gen Taher Yehia, and the Army Chief of Staff, Maj-Gen Ibrahim Feisal Al-Ansari and assumed the supreme command of the Armed Forces.

The whereabouts of the deposed President remained a mystery as both Cairo and Ankara denied earlier reports that Gen Aref had sought refuge there. However, there was no denial from London where, according to latest reports, he had arrived.

As Gen Aref flew off, tanks moved into the main intersections of the city. Planes flew low over rooftops, and awakened residents flicked on their radios to hear: “Don’t be afraid. The planes flying over the city are those of the people’s revolution.”

Baghdad was quiet today with a nationwide curfew in effect since 7 a.m. local. All non-military traffic was forbidden. — Agency

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2018