Sudan's Omar Al Bashir tells court he is 'proud' to have led 1989 coup

The deposed president said he takes 'full responsibility' for the events that took down former prime minister Sadiq Al Mahdi 31 years ago

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Sudan's deposed president Omar Al Bashir told a court that he was “proud” to have led the 1989 coup that put him in power.

Al Bashir said on Tuesday he took “full responsibility” for the events that removed prime minister Sadiq Al Mahdi 31 years ago.

“The actions on June 30 were not a walk in the park. It was not an easy decision, despite the circumstances back then being ripe for what we did. If we had failed, we would have been having this trial back in 1989,” he said.

As head of the National Salvation Revolutionary Command of 1989, Al Bashir went on to rule Sudan for 29 years, until he was removed by his generals following widespread protests in 2018 and 2019.

Al Bashir is already serving a prison sentence for corruption charges and could face the death penalty if found guilty in Tuesday's trial for “destroying the constitutional order”.

Omar Al Bashir at the courthouse where he is facing corruption charges. Reuters

Backers of the prosecution believe trying him for the coup would send a message to people who try to defy the constitution.

“This will safeguard Sudanese democracy. In this way, we hope to bring an end to the era of putsches in Sudan,” lawyer Moaz Hadra told AFP after the trial's announcement in 2020.

Six civilians are on trial for their involvement, but Al Bashir said no civilians were part of the plotting and execution.

He said he was watching in amusement as others were being put on the stand, maintaining that his confession was “the mother of all evidence”.

Al Bashir said that following the successful removal of Mr Al Mahdi, he gathered with different factions of the armed forces for celebrations.

“We had the full support of the armed forces,” he said.

“We gathered and drank tea, after the fact.”

Al Bashir appeared well spoken and in good health as he gave an almost 30-minute testimony, contrary to recent reports of an illness.

Not ready for arrest

During his testimony Al Bashir said he gave former president Ahmed Ali Al Mirghani the option to be arrested a day later “if he wasn't ready”.

“And indeed, he said he was not ready, so we took him the day after.”

“He said he was ill and was seeking treatment, and that he would return until he finishes treatment. So we released him and his passport, and we opened the VIP room,” he said, although it was unclear whether he was referring to a residence or an airport lobby.

“He went to Egypt and of course never returned.”

Updated: December 20, 2022, 6:23 PM
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