KHARTOUM – Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was ousted on Thursday by the army after several months of protests triggered by a deteriorating economic situation in the country.
A hike in the price of basic commodities sparked rallies in December last year, which gathered momentum and spread across the country as thousands took to the streets in a rare display of defiance, calling for the resignation of al-Bashir, who took the helm in 1989 after a coup.
The key stages of the protests are as follow:
Protests erupted on Dec. 19, 2018, which coincided with the return of opposition leader Sadeq al-Mahadi to the country after 10 months in exile.
It is not clear whether al-Mahadi’s party, al-Umma, directly incited the protests or not, although it increasingly backed the movement as it grew.
The unrest was fueled by the northeastern African country’s deteriorating economic situation.
Sudan devalued its currency twice in 2018, triggering inflation.
The government’s efforts to control prices caused shortages in bread, fuel and other basic products in a country where nearly five million people are not guaranteed even a single meal a day.
The Sudanese economy has been in crisis since South Sudan gained its independence in 2011, which cut off the oil supply.
The public purse has been further emptied by corruption and costly conflicts in the southern federal state of Kordofan and the western region of Darfur.
United States sanctions have also tightened the government’s ability to spend.
Nearly three million Sudanese are internally displaced by conflict, while another million people have fled to neighboring countries, half of whom are in South Sudan.
During the first few weeks of protest, government repression was especially violent.
It worsened on April 6, when the number of demonstrators swelled from dozens to hundreds of thousands.
Over 80 people have been killed during the rallies since they began. The majority were shot by government security forces, according to information collected by opposition groups and local and international NGOs.
Some people were tortured to death at police stations, the public prosecutor’s office said.
Al-Bashir declared the state of emergency on Feb. 22, opening the door for mass trials against hundreds of activists, according to the opposition; something that eased protests, but never stopped them altogether.
On April 6, protests skyrocketed.
A mobilization campaign was launched by the opposition a week prior, with the aim of encouraging people to protest.
The movement was fanned by news coming from Algeria that longtime Algerian leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced to step down faced with protests of his own.
Protesters filled the streets of the capital Khartoum.
Rallies took place on the 34th anniversary of the ousting of Gaafar Nimeiry, on April 6, 1985, something the opposition tried to imitate.
The 1985 uprising paved the way for the only democratic elections in the history of Sudan, in which Sadeq al-Mahdi became the prime minister.
The democratic process, however, was brought to an end in 1989 by a coup led by al-Bashir.
In that revolution, as happened in the 1964 uprising, “the army took the people’s side,” al-Rashid Omar, a political science professor at the Khartoum University, told EFE.
Seeking inspiration from the history books, “protesters encouraged each other to call for the protection” of the army during a sit-in that started on April 6, according to Omar.
The military members defended the protesters by opening fire at the security forces troops when they tried to disperse them form the gathering outside the army headquarters in Khartoum.
This was a decisive turning point toward the end of the al-Bashir government.
The army since announced it would assume a two-year traditional government.