After 30 years, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is no longer the ruler of Sudan. The military has taken charge of the country following months of protests. This marks the fifth military coup in Sudan’s post-independence history. And while Bashir’s downfall is an extraordinary development, there is a long way to go before the protesters’ goal of a transition to democracy is achieved.
The man now leading Sudan is Gen. Awad Ibn Auf, the defense minister and first vice president. His is not a household name to Americans, but he is one of a handful of Sudanese sanctioned by the U.S. governmentfor atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region. In 2003, he was the head of Sudan’s military intelligence. In that role, he helped to stand up the infamous proxy militia force known as the Janjaweed, who brutalized the Darfuri population.
When the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned him in 2007, it did so on the grounds that Ibn Auf, along with the minister of humanitarian affairs, Ahmed Harun (who was also indictedby the International Criminal Court), “acted as liaisons between the Sudanese government and the government-supported Janjaweed militias.” During Ibn Auf’s tenure as head of military intelligence, an estimated 300,000 people died and millions were displaced in events that the U.S. government described as genocide.
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