Sudan’s army has removed President Omar al-Bashir from power after 30 years, following months of protests that escalated at the weekend when demonstrators began a sit-in outside the defence ministry compound in central Khartoum.
Bashir had been arrested “in a safe place”, the Sudanese defence minster and army general Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf said in a statement broadcast on state media. A military council will take control of the country for two years, after which elections would be held, Ibn Auf added.
“For a long time, examining what’s going on in the state and the corruption that is going on,” he said. “The poor are poorer and the rich are still rich and there are no equal chances for the same people.”
The military seized control of state television shortly after dawn on Thursday, amid unconfirmed reports that Bashir was under house arrest at his residence in the defence ministry compound. There were also reports that several senior figures close to Bashir in the ruling National Congress party had been detained.
Ibn Auf said political detainees would be released but that a state of emergency would continue for three months and that a curfew from 10pm to 4am would be enforced for at least a month. All ports will remain closed for 24 hours.
Sudan, one of Africa’s biggest and most strategically important countries, has been paralysed by months of protests that erupted on 19 December in the eastern city of Atbara after a government decision to triple the price of bread, but quickly evolved into nationwide demonstrations against Bashir’s rule.
Though the removal from power of Bashir was welcomed with joy by protesters, the army’s decision to impose a curfew is a direct challenge to the thousands who have occupied a crossroads in the centre of Khartoum for five days. It is currently unclear how demonstrators will react, raising fears of bloodshed if they refuse to disperse.
Attempts by security forces to break up the Khartoum sit-in have already killed at least 22 – including five soldiers, who organisers said were defending the protesters – and injured more than 150.
The army has won considerable goodwill among protesters by protecting them from security services and pro-Bashir militia in recent days. Earlier this week, opposition leaders called for the military to step in to form a transitional government.
“Sudanese always believe that transition should come through the military. All are mindful of what instability could cause. Any chaos could have a very high cost,” said Saif al Din Abdelrahman, a Sudanese economist and expert based in Kenya.
Shortly after dawn on Thursday Sudan state television had trailed “an important announcement” without giving further details.
As anticipation built, state television and radio played patriotic music, reminding older Sudanese of how past military takeovers unfolded in the country, and images of recent protests. Despite a lack of concrete information about what was happening for much of the morning, tens of thousands of Sudanese marched through the centre of Khartoum in jubilation, dancing and chanting anti-Bashir slogans. Protesters outside the defence ministry chanted: “It has fallen, we won.”
There were sporadic protests elsewhere in the country, and some reports of shooting by security services.
Footage posted to social media showed people tearing down posters depicting the president in Khartoum and marching on prisons and police stations.
The 75-year-old faces genocide charges at the international criminal court relating to extensive human rights abuses perpetrated by Sudanese forces against civilians in Darfur, the western region gripped by conflict since 2003 when rebels took up arms against the government, accusing it of discrimination and neglect. The UN says 300,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes.
However, many other leaders and governments in Africa have defended Bashir.
In October 2017, the US eased sanctions against Sudan, citing improved humanitarian access, the mitigation of conflicts within the country and progress on counter-terrorism. Human rights organisations condemned the move.
Ibn Auf is a controversial figure himself, blacklisted by Washington for his role as the army’s head of military intelligence and security during the Darfur conflict. He has been defence minister since 2015 and was promoted in February by Bashir to the role of first-vice president.
Prime minister has won plaudits for reforms during his first year in office but faces challenge of long-running ethnic tensions.
On Wednesday, April 10 at 19:30 GMT:
Abiy Ahmed has led Ethiopia at a breathless pace since becoming prime minister a year ago this month, winning praise for tackling a host of internal and regional problems. But as the initial goodwill towards his ascent to the premiership recedes he faces a set of tough challenges that may yet complicate his flourishing reputation.
When Ethiopia's ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) elected Abiy he became the country's first ethnic Oromo prime minister since the EPRDF came to power in 1991. He pledged to heal divisions following deadly protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions that precipitated the resignation of his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn - and within weeks lifted martial law imposed under a state of emergency. He went on to release hundreds of political prisoners and all imprisoned journalists, signed a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea and began work on economic reforms aimed at boosting prospects for under-developed parts of the country.
But deep-seated ethnic divisions fester. More than two million people are displaced, largely due to the impact or threat of ethnic violence. Tensions have been exacerbated by the impact of a prolonged drought. Abiy's plan to boost national inclusivity among dozens of ethnic communities has been undermined by demands from several groups that new federal states be formed. The continuing instability and spectre of Balkanisation has had a knock-on effect on civil cohesion and economic development.
As Abiy enters his second year in charge we'll look at his successes and mis-steps, as well as the continuing disputes and dilemmas he must safely negotiate. Join the conversation.
Abiy's year one: Ethiopia faces the threat of ethnic conflict - Al Jazeera
Abiy's year one: Ethiopia's best hope for stability - Al JazeeraWhat do you think? Record a video comment or leave your thoughts in the comments below.
18 Canadians among 157 killed when the Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed
The Associated Press · Posted: Apr 04, 2019 4:39 AM ET | Last Updated: an hour ago
A man hired to assist forensic investigators looking into the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash walks by a pile of twisted airplane debris at Hama.....
In June 2013, a massive storm dumped record amounts of rain on southern Alberta, leading to devastating flooding in Calgary and nearby communities. According to a new report, Canada will see an increase in precipitation across the country though summer rainfall may decrease. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
On Monday, a report commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada called Canada's Changing Climate Report said that, on average, Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world.
Among some of the other findings were:
Northern Canada is warming at more than three times the global average.
Precipitation is expected to increase across the country though summer rainfall may decrease.
Oceans around the country have warmed, becoming more acidic.
The warming climate will make extreme hot temperatures more frequent and more intense.
But readers had some lingering questions.
Why did they only use data from 1948?
It might seem strange that the report only referenced data from 1948, since we know that cities have data that go further back. It's not some way of manipulating the data, but rather it is the time at which national records were kept on a consistent basis.
"It's a question of the availability of datasets, and Environment Canada's datasets are quite poor," said Dianne Saxe, former environmental commissioner of Ontario. "What they look for is continuous record-keeping in the same place over a long period of time, and we don't have a lot of that."
Is Canada changing the Arctic?
The effects seen across the Arctic, including shrinking sea ice and and less snow cover, are having a dire effect on global temperatures. Sea ice and snow cover are used to reflect the sun's radiation back into space, but with more of the dark waters of the ocean exposed, that radiation is absorbed and causes heating and creates what is called a "positive feedback loop."
Saxe, whose office was shut down by the Ontario government on Monday, said that there are two things to consider when considering what is causing the rapidly melting ice.
An increase of carbon dioxide may be the biggest problem, she says, but it's the short-term climate forces that need attention.
"The use of diesel in the North in snowy areas has an extraordinary effect at melting snow because it lets out these little soot particles that absorb heat into the air and darkens the snow."
Saxe says that some solutions would be including filters on vehicles that use diesel and changing out wood stoves.
"The greenhouse gas is the biggest problem, but the short-term climate forces are faster, and we could actually fix them easily."
How did the report acquire the data?
The report gathered data from existing peer-reviewed studies. It also used model projections that may have not been peer-reviewed. However, all chapters of the report itself were peer-reviewed.
The report also acknowledged that Indigenous observations and knowledge play an important role in understanding climate change and "the ability of human and natural systems to adapt."
The Arctic ice is melting. Does that mean Antarctic ice is growing?
The Arctic and Antarctic are two different beasts. While the Arctic exists as mostly sea ice, the Antarctic is a landmass that includes sea ice as well as glaciers. The ocean processes that drive them are different as well, and Antarctica has glaciers, an ice sheet and sea ice in the mix.
The signal is loud and clear in the Arctic: sea ice is not only melting, but it's thinning, which in turn makes it more susceptible to further melt.
In Antarctica, the signal isn't so clear. The East Antarctic Ice Sheet — which sits atop the Antarctic landmass — is fairly stable. And while West Antarctica is colder, the warming is much higher in the region, which in turn is causing warmer ocean water to thin the ice.
This data image illustrates warming across Antarctica. Red represents areas where temperatures, measured in degrees Celsius per decade, have increased the most during the last 50 years, while dark blue represents areas with a lesser degree of warming. West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, the craggy finger of land jutting out from the continent on the left, have experienced the most warming. (NASA/GSFC Scientific Visualization Studio)
A new study published in January suggested that Antarctic ice is melting six times faster than it did in the 1980s.
So while the Arctic is seeing the most dramatic effect of climate change, the Antarctic is also seeing its own effects, though at a somewhat slower pace. And that's good news since if the entire Antarctic ice sheet melted, it would raise sea level by 57 metres.
Is this new?
"No," said Saxe. "I didn't see anything new in this report. However, I'm glad this is getting people's attention."
Saxe notes that when you look at the climate data available for Toronto, which goes back to 1841, it shows the city has warmed to almost three times the global average. This is data that was already available.
As well, it was already understood that humans are the main drivers of climate change, though there are natural forces at work. However, the natural forces cannot account for the rapid change we are observing.
Normal can't come back. We've locked in a huge amount of change that is still going to come our way.- Dianne Saxe, former environmental commissioner of Ontario
While people may want a return to normal, Saxe said, that's not going to happen.
"Normal can't come back," she said. "We've locked in a huge amount of change that is still going to come our way."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senior Reporter, Science
Nicole has an avid interest in all things science. As an amateur astronomer, Nicole can be found looking up at the night sky appreciating the marvels of our universe. She is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the author of several books.