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Timeline: Key events in Sudan’s unfinished revolution

June 13, 2019

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Protest leaders see confrontations with the army as part of struggle to purge state institutions of al-Bashir’s army. — AFP/File
Protest leaders see confrontations with the army as part of struggle to purge state institutions of al-Bashir’s army. — AFP/File

Sudan’s security forces violently dispersed on June 3 the camp at the centre of the protest movement that in April forced the army to remove Sudan’s strongman, Omar al-Bashir, after 30 years of rule — and then stayed in the streets to keep up pressure on the generals who took his place.

For months, tens of thousands in the camp and other protest sites have been demanding a speedy transition to civilian rule. The break-up of the sit-in threatens to escalate the struggle between the protesters and the army to a new, more volatile level.

Many protest leaders see the confrontation with the army as part of the struggle to purge the state’s institutions of al-Bashir’s army and Islamist supporters. The autocrat’s time in power will likely be remembered as among the most oppressive in Sudan’s modern history.

Here is a timeline of key events in the rise and fall of al-Bashir, and Sudan’s unfinished revolution:

1980s — A career army officer, al-Bashir assumes a leading role in the war against rebels in the south.

1985 — Sudanese army overthrows former President Jaafar al-Nimeiri in a bloodless coup. The army quickly hands power to an elected government, which proves dysfunctional and only rules for a few years.

1989 — Leading an alliance of the army and Islamist hard-liners, al-Bashir stages a coup against Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, dissolving the government and all political parties. He appoints himself chair of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, which rules the country, and is named defence minister.

1990 — Coup attempt fails to unseat al-Bashir.

1991 — Al-Bashir and his Islamist allies impose Islamic or Sharia law, fueling the division between the country’s Muslim, Arabized north and the mainly animist and Christian south.

August 1993 — US State Department lists Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

October 1993 — Al-Bashir is appointed president.

1996 — Al-Bashir is re-elected president.

1997 — US imposes sanctions against Sudan’s government, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

June 1998 — Sudanese legislators draft a new constitution that lifts the ban on political parties.

December 1998 — Al-Bashir dissolves the parliament after an Islamist political ally proposes laws limiting the president’s powers.

2000 — Al-Bashir wins another presidential election with over 85% of the vote.

2003 — Rebel groups in Darfur attack the government in an uprising against alleged abuses and mistreatment by authorities. Al-Bashir seeks help from the Janjaweed militias, whose brutal tactics terrorise people in the region and displace more than 2 million people. A small peacekeeping force from the African Union arrives.

2005 — Under international pressure, a peace deal is reached between al-Bashir and the southern Sudanese rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. The agreement gives southern Sudanese the right to determine whether the south would remain part of Sudan.

2008 — International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor calls for an arrest warrant against al-Bashir, citing charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur. The Sudanese government, which is not a party to the treaty creating the ICC, denies the accusations and proclaims al-Bashir’s innocence.

2009 — The ICC issues an arrest warrant for al-Bashir — the first time that the ICC seeks the arrest of a sitting head of state — charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity but not genocide. Later, a second arrest warrant is issued against al-Bashir, this time with a genocide charge.

2010 — Al-Bashir is re-elected with about 68% of vote in the country’s first multiparty elections in more than 20 years. Two main opposition rivals withdraw over alleged fraudulent practices.

2011 — South Sudan gains independence after a referendum in January. South Sudan’s independence causes economic difficulties in Sudan as the new country gains control over the southern oil fields, which had accounted for three-quarters of the country’s oil production.

2015 — Al-Bashir wins another five-year term in a vote marred by low turnout.

2016 — Hundreds of protesters take to streets against a government decision to slash fuel subsidies, as required by the International Monetary Fund.

2017 — US announces partial lifting of long-standing sanctions against Sudan, citing progress by Khartoum in fighting terrorism and its commitment not to pursue arms deals with North Korea.

January 2018 — Protests break out across Sudan against price hikes caused by government austerity measures.

August 2018 — Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party says it would back al-Bashir as its candidate in the 2020 presidential election.

Dec 16, 2018 — Al-Bashir becomes the first Arab League leader to visit Syria since civil war erupted there nearly eight years ago. He is greeted at the Damascus airport by Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Dec 19, 2018 — Anti-government demonstrations erupt across Sudan, initially over steep price rises and shortages, but soon shift to calls for al-Bashir to step down. Security forces respond with a fierce crackdown that kills dozens.

Feb 19, 2019 — Al-Bashir declares a state of emergency, bans all unauthorised gatherings and gives security forces sweeping powers to quash the protests.

April 6 — A large sit-in protest begins outside the military’s headquarters in Khartoum. Over the next five days, security forces kill 22 people in attempts to clear the sit-in. The protests gain momentum after the resignation earlier in the week by Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 20 years, in response to similar demonstrations.

April 11 — Sudanese army arrests al-Bashir and says it takes over for the next 2 years, suspending the country’s constitution and closing its borders and airspace. A three-month state of emergency is also imposed.

April 12 — Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan replaces the coup leader who is linked to the bloodshed in Darfur, Awad Mohammed Ibn Ouf, after street rallies against him.

April 17 — Sudanese officials say al-Bashir has been transferred to a prison in Khartoum.

April 21 — Protest organisers suspend talks with the ruling military council, saying it has failed to meet their demands for an immediate transfer to a civilian government.

April 25 — Under pressure from mounting protests, three members of the ruling military council resign.

April 27 — Protest leaders resume talks with the ruling military council.

May 13 — Sudanese prosecutors say they have charged al-Bashir with involvement in killing and incitement to kill protesters during the uprising.

May 14 — Protesters says security agents loyal to ousted leader al-Bashir attacked their sit-ins overnight, setting off clashes that killed five people, including an army officer.

May 15 — Army and opposition leaders announce significant progress in negotiations; a three-year transition period, a Cabinet and the makeup of a 300-member, all-civilian transitional legislative body.

May 25 — Thousands of militants, long allied with al-Bashir’s regime, rally to support military-backed Islamic rule in Khartoum.

May 28 — Protest leaders launch a two-day general strike to press the army to hand over power to a civilian-led authority.

June 3 — Protest leaders say security forces attack their Khartoum sit-in at the centre of the movement, opening fire, torching tents and killing over 30 people.

June 4 — Sudanese protest organisers say the killing of two more people increases the death toll to 40 since the bloody dispersal of a sit-in in the capital Khartoum.

June 6 — The United Nations human rights office says a monitoring team should be deployed quickly to Sudan to examine alleged violations during military crackdown. On the other hand, organisers of pro-democracy demonstrations say more than 40 bodies of people slain by Sudanese security forces were pulled from the Nile River in the capital of Khartoum. Protesters claim new clashes brought the death toll in three days of the ruling military’s crackdown to 108.

June 8 — Pro-democracy protest leaders call on Sudanese citizens to take part in acts of civil disobedience in a bid to pressure the military to hand over power after the deadly break-up of their main sit-in in the capital of Khartoum earlier in the week.

June 10 — Shops shut and streets remain across Sudan on the first day of a general strike called for the start of the workweek by protest leaders demanding the resignation of the ruling military council.

June 11 — The United Nations says Sudan’s transitional military council has issued a decree demanding that the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur hand over its premises as part of its withdrawal next year.

June 12 — Amnesty International says Sudanese security forces have continued to commit “war crimes and other serious human rights violations” in the Darfur region.

June 13 — Activists call off a general strike and civil disobedience campaign as businesses reopen and traffic returns to its normal bustle in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum, after the US and Ethiopia step up efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.