Golpe de Estado

Sudanese protesters open their smartphones lights as they gather for a "million-strong" march outside the army headquarters in Khartoum on April 25, 2019. Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images.

Many Sudanese believe that the uprising is moving in the right direction and will ultimately deliver a transition to a legitimate civilian government. However, this outcome remains finely balanced and there are valid concerns about the intentions of the new transitional military council and a possible return to dictatorship.

The military council maintains the need for a transitional period of up to two years before handing over power to civilians. But the protests have continued, despite the military’s attempts at gentle dispersion, and there are worries about how much patience the armed forces will continue to show.

There is significant potential for increased violence, particularly if demands for a rapid transition towards an inclusive, transitional civilian government are not met.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sudanese protesters hold up brooms as they rally Monday near a military headquarters in Khartoum, after the ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir. (AFP/Getty Images)

Last week, after months of increasing protests, the Sudanese army announced that it would soon make an important statement, leading to speculation about an imminent coup. Within what seemed like minutes, the news service Arabiya announced that President Omar al-Bashir, after 20 years in power, was stepping down. A transitional military council announced it would rule for two years, followed by al-Bashir’s arrest.

Clearly, the military did topple the government. The African Union denounced the military takeover, and protesters are still in the streets demanding civilian rule.

Since the end of World War II, the top three most common ways autocrats have left power are through coups, elections, and negotiated settlements.…  Seguir leyendo »

On April 11, the Sudanese military carried out a takeover against President Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s dictator for the past 30 years. The military takeover came after months of popular protests, with citizens demanding a democratic transition.

General Awad Ibn Auf, an ally of Bashir’s, became president — but just for a day. On April 12, Ibn Auf bowed out as the protests continued. Lt. General Abdel-Fattah Burhan then assumed power.

Despite ousting two autocrats in two days, it’s unclear whether Sudan will transition to democracy in the near term. Here are four things to know about the political situation:

1. Popular mobilization against Bashir intensified over the past four months

Last week’s sudden shifts came amid widespread popular dissatisfaction with Bashir — some of it long-standing.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators gather in Sudan's capital of Khartoum Friday as the Sudanese protest movement has rejected the military's declaration that it has no ambitions to hold the reins of power for long after ousting the president of 30 years, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. (Anonymous/AP)

For the past decade, governments around the world lined up to legitimize the regime of Omar Hassan al-Bashir in Sudan — even as it continued to attack civilians in Darfur, burn Christian churches, deny food to areas of the Nuba Mountains, provide support to extremist groups, and arrest and torture protesters. Instead of confronting these abuses, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the African Union, China, Russia and Persian Gulf countries all sought ways to strengthen relations with his government.

Only one constituency stood up to Bashir and his allied generals: the Sudanese people themselves. After years of organizing and resisting, Sudan’s pro-reform social movement catalyzed protests across the country, resulting in a “palace coup ” on Thursday .…  Seguir leyendo »

The ouster of Sudanese dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir after 30 years in power has been a long time coming. His removal and arrest — by his former military colleagues — were the culmination of popular protests in several Sudanese cities, which have effectively been going on for the past four months, initially sparked by a spiraling cost of living and the deterioration of economic conditions. However, the manner of his departure has left a sour taste in the mouths of many protesters.

That Bashir has basically been removed by his second in command, Awad Ibn Auf, implies that little has actually changed.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Thursday, after about four months of continuous protests, the Sudanese people achieved the seemingly improbable. They brought down one of the world’s most corrupt and inhumane military dictators — peacefully.

This momentous event, which can only be described as a revolution, would not have been possible if Sudan’s youth had not dared to dream of freedom and to persist in that dream. Theirs is a revolution born of great pain and frustration, but also increasingly fueled by witty humor, joy and a stubbornness that insists on the celebration of life and Sudan’s diversity, in conscious and dramatic contrast to the violence and inhumanity of the regime of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.…  Seguir leyendo »

Omar Hassan al-Bashir, now the former president, in 2017. Credit Ashraf Shazly/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Thirty years feels like a lifetime. On Thursday, months of peaceful, popular protests finally forced Sudan’s military to oust President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. It feels as if a century has passed since I was in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, just after Mr. al-Bashir ousted Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi in a bloodless coup supported by the Islamists and the army in December 1989.

Six months after the coup the mood was already shifting from shock to gloomy resignation. Nobody in his wildest dreams thought the new leadership would last three decades.

I had no idea then that the Khartoum I knew would disappear: the evening lights, the cinemas and ice cream parlors.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crowds of Sudanese gathered at the army headquarters on Thursday, chanting “The regime has fallen.” Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Widespread peaceful protests have forced Sudan’s long-serving military ruler, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, out of office. But a transition to democracy is going to be far more difficult and will need prompt international support.

During his 30 years in power, Mr. Bashir built a hydra-headed military and security apparatus. On Thursday, a cabal of his henchmen in the military replaced him and took over. Gen. Awad Ibn Auf, Sudan’s minister of defense, appeared on state television and announced the end of Mr. Bashir’s era and the beginning of a two-year transition period during which the army will rule. Though he promised “representation of the people,” many Sudanese will see this as betraying their demand for democracy.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Jair Bolsonaro, then a congressman, voted for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff in 2016, he criticized Brazil’s left wing, declaring, “they lost in 1964, they lost again in 2016.» He then dedicated his vote to “the memory of Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra — the dread of Dilma Rousseff.” This quote comes to mind this week after Bolsonaro, now president of Brazil, ordered the country’s military to commemorate the anniversary of the March 31, 1964 coup that resulted in military rule and propelled Ustra’s rise.

Ustra was an army colonel who headed the Doi-Codi intelligence service in the 1970s. He became known for overseeing the use of horrifying torture techniques on political prisoners.…  Seguir leyendo »

May 28, 1974: A group of armed men breaks into my apartment. They start going through drawers and cabinets — but I don’t know what they’re looking for, I’m just a rock songwriter. One of them, more gentle, asks that I accompany them “just to clarify some things.” The neighbor sees all this and warns my family, who immediately panic. Everyone knew what Brazil was living at the time, even if it wasn’t covered in the newspapers.

I was taken to the DOPS (Departamento de Ordem Politica e Social), booked and photographed. I ask what I had done, he says they will ask the questions.…  Seguir leyendo »

The fall of Robert Mugabe has dominated global coverage of Africa over the past few weeks. In Western coverage of the first week after the coup in Zimbabwe there was speculation about what China knew beforehand and whether Beijing played an active role in pushing for it.

China’s mention drowned out other notable external stakeholders such as the UK, the US, South Africa, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU). And it almost threatened to overshadow the domestic dynamics that led to the changeover.

There are reasons to draw a direct parallel between China and the recent events in Zimbabwe.…  Seguir leyendo »

As former president Robert Mugabe and his second wife, Grace Mugabe, prepare to make their exit from Zimbabwe’s State House, Zimbabweans have hankered for “Amai” (Mother) Sally, his late first wife, who is fondly remembered as a “very sensitive and intelligent woman” who may have been a ““restraining influence” on her husband.

On the day of the military intervention earlier this month, the veteran South Africa-based Zimbabwean journalist Peter Ndoro tweeted the following:

“As developments continue to unfold in #Zimbabwe #RobertMugabe might be looking back and wondering if … his rule wasn’t a tale of two wives. One that died too soon and the other that ended up being his Achilles heel.…  Seguir leyendo »

After 37 years in office, Robert Mugabe’s odds of being removed from power by members of his ruling circle in Zimbabwe were slim. Research on authoritarianism suggests the 93-year-old president was well-positioned to live out his final days in office and join the ranks of the 80 post-World War II dictators who have died in office of natural causes.

The longer a dictator rules, the less likely he is to be toppled in a coup — that’s what history reveals. While concerns about succession loomed large in Zimbabwe, data show that older leaders (ages 65 and up) are at lower risk of losing power in a coup than are their younger despotic counterparts.…  Seguir leyendo »

The ecstatic scenes said it all – Zimbabweans around the world are celebrating the resignation of Robert Mugabe as president. In January 1980, hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans thronged Zimbabwe Grounds stadium in Highfields township, Harare, to welcome Mugabe back from exile. In March 1980, with reggae icon Bob Marley and Britain’s Prince Charles in attendance, thousands filled Rufaro Stadium to witness the handover from Rhodesia to the new nation of Zimbabwe. Thirty-seven years later, the largest crowds Harare has ever witnessed flooded the streets once again; not to welcome Mugabe in, but to see him out. One simple, taut phrase summed up the day’s events: ‘This is our second independence day.’

How did it come to this?…  Seguir leyendo »

I spent a lot of time in Zimbabwe in the mid-2000s, as the head of a human rights organization that worked across Southern Africa. Even at the height of the political turmoil in 2008, when opposition figures were assaulted in the aftermath of a stolen election, I was often struck by how deeply respectful Zimbabweans were of their president. Many people were obviously unhappy with Robert Mugabe’s leadership. Still, it was not unusual to hear people reference his role in the independence movement, to point out his clear intellectual gifts and his efforts to advance education.

They had no such respect, however, for his wife.…  Seguir leyendo »

Fue el país de los multimillonarios pobres y ahora se ha convertido en el del golpe de Estado amable. Zimbabue ha sido durante 37 años el reino de Robert Mugabe, y está tan impregnado de él que cuando el Ejército se ha enfadado lo ha acorralado sin atreverse a expulsarlo. No solo por el respeto que los shona –la cultura mayoritaria a Zimbabue– deben a los ancianos –y Mugabe ya tiene 93 años–, sino porque son sus amigos y compañeros de poder de siempre. No querían deshacerse de Mugabe, pero necesitaban garantizar que ellos tomarían el relevo cuando deje de ser presidente.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Friday, an office worker at a government building took down President Mugabe’s portrait to dust it, as she has done every day for years. Then she paused, unsure whether to put it back up. The portrait is everywhere, from supermarkets, offices and banks. There he is – Mugabe, sitting stiffly in his dark suit, peering down through thick-rimmed glasses, as the stern father looking down at us.

Much like the portrait, Mugabe has been an ever-present influence in every Zimbabwean’s life. But yesterday, as strangers hugged and stopped to dance with each other when I made my way to an anti-Mugabe rally, it seemed that he was finally leaving, with Zimbabweans looking to the future with a mix of anxiety and hope.…  Seguir leyendo »

Early Wednesday morning in Zimbabwe, Major General Moyo of the Zimbabwe Armed Forces announced on national television that President Robert Mugabe and his family were safe and that the military would be “targeting criminals” that are “causing social and economic suffering in the country.”

Moyo took pains to clarify that this was “not a military takeover of government.” The ruling ZANU-PF party’s youth league later tweeted out its own reassurances:

Coup or no coup?

Poetic language notwithstanding, it was clear to many observers that events had unfolded according to the standard coup playbook. Military actors associated with Army Chief General Constantino Chiwenga and recently ousted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa had taken control, with soldiers in charge of the broadcasting building, parliament, courts, president’s residence and other symbolic locations in the city.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Zimbabwe Defense Forces have taken control of the country. What exactly happened?

The crisis burst into the open on 6 November when President Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and expelled him from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party. Mnangagwa has been aligned with the military and Zimbabwe’s National Liberation War Veterans Association, and had been in a fierce struggle for power in the race to succeed the country’s 93-year-old leader. His principal opponent was Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife, who heads a rival faction of ZANU-PF veterans known as the G40, leads the women’s wing and is popular among young party activists.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is no doubt that the events of the last 48 hours in Zimbabwe mark the beginning of the end of Robert Mugabe’s reign. The dictator’s 37-year-rule was distinguished by untold suffering, high inflation, shortages of water, electricity and money. Millions of Zimbabweans left the country in search of better opportunities. The majority of those who remained were left to live in poverty and illness.

In a confusing sequence of events on Tuesday and Wednesday, the military seized the state television broadcaster ZBC, and in an effort to downplay what was happening said there was no coup, but that it was targeting criminals around the president.…  Seguir leyendo »