Sudan’s Bashir in Court over 1989 Coup that Brought Him to Power
Ousted Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir is again in court, this time for the coup that allowed the beginning of his 30 years of autocratic rule. He faces the death penalty. Having been toppled in April 2019 by the army, which is now sharing power with civilians in a transition government, Bashir, 76 was convicted of money laundering and other corruption charges last December, resulting in a two-year prison sentence. The country’s interim government also says it is willing to hand him over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he is wanted for war crimes he allegedly committed in brutally quashing a rebellion in the western region of Darfur. Bashir came to power in June 1989 when, as a colonel, he and other senior army officers plotted against, and removed, Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi in a bloodless coup. Bashir and the new military government instituted Islamic law, and in 1993 he appointed himself president. During his tenure, Washington placed Sudan on a list of countries supporting terror owing to the protection he afforded Islamist extremists. His ousting came against the backdrop of nationwide protests over the high cost of living and other economic problems exacerbated when he was forced to allow South Sudan to secede along with most of the country’s rich oil fields.