CAIRO (AP) — Sudan’s ousted president on Tuesday took “full responsibility” for the 1989 coup that led to his presidency, according to the first televised testimony of his ongoing trial.
Omar al-Bashir’s admission came during court proceedings in Sudan, where he faces charges relating to the overthrow of the former elected government headed by prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. Al-Bashir was ousted in April, 2019 and has since been incarcerated on corruption charges.
“I bear full responsibility for what happened on June 30 (1989), a confession is the strongest of all evidence,” al-Bashir said as part of his testimony, which was broadcast live on Tuesday.
Al-Bashir said other non-military factions were not involved in the takeover.
The testimony from al-Bashir, 78, comes amid reports of his failing health. A video posted by the Arabic news Channel Hadath appeared to show someone checking al-Bashir’s blood pressure in the courtroom during Tuesday’s proceedings.
Sudan has been plunged into turmoil since the country’s leading military figure, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, led a coup in October 2021 that derailed the country’s democratic transition after al-Bashir’s ouster.
In a motion seeking to end the impasse, Sudan’s military and one of the country’s main pro-democracy groups, the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, signed a framework deal Dec. 5 vowing to install a new civilian government and remove the military from power.
The deal only offers only a rough outline of how the country will resume its transition to democracy and has been rejected by several major political forces. It also ducked sensitive political issues concerning transitional justice and details concerning military reform.
During his three-decade rule, al-Bashir kept an iron grip on power and brutally suppressed any opposition, while monopolizing the economy through his allies in business.
Al-Bashir oversaw the brutal repression of an uprising in its western Darfur region in the early 2000s that killed some 300,000 people, rights groups estimate. His pro-government militias, known as the Janjaweed, became notorious for spearheading the atrocities. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide linked to the Darfur conflict.
Al-Bashir’s government also hosted Osama bin Laden in the years proceeding the creation of al-Qaida, a move that put Sudan on the U.S. list of countries backing terrorism.