World, Middle East, Africa

Last decade sees departure of six Arab leaders

Since 2011, popular pressure has led to departure of long-serving leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Algeria, Sudan

Burak Bir   | 11.04.2019
Last decade sees departure of six Arab leaders


With Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s ouster on Thursday, Sudan has become the sixth Arab country -- within the last ten years -- to see their leaders resign in the face of popular pressure.


Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali started the trend in 2011, when he was forced to step down -- after almost 25 years in power -- amid mass demonstrations across the country.

Ben Ali eventually fled Tunisia for Saudi Arabia, after which he was replaced by an interim leader who later oversaw fresh presidential elections.

Demonstrations in Tunisia began when street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself alight to protest mistreatment by the Tunisian police, sparking what would later be dubbed the “Arab Spring”.


Less than a month later, Egyptians took to the streets to demand the resignation of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters converged on Cairo’s Tahrir Square as demonstrations spread across the country.

On Feb. 11, 2011, Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for three decades, relinquished authority to the country’s powerful military establishment.


Muammar Gaddafi became the third Arab leader to fall in 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to his ouster and death after four decades in power.

He was captured and killed in his hometown of Sirte following eight months of protests against his rule.

In the eight years since, Libya’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power: one in eastern Libya and another in capital Tripoli.


Later still in 2011, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to step down following three months of protests and scores of deaths.

Six years after his resignation, Saleh -- who had ruled the country for more than three decades -- was killed by Houthi rebels outside capital Sanaa.

Since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, Yemen has remained wracked by chaos and violence.

The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign in Yemen aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.


The trend continued in 2019 when Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned following weeks of demonstrations.

On Tuesday, Parliament Speaker Abdelkader Bensaleh was appointed interim president, vowing to hold “fair and transparent” elections within 90 days.

Protests have continued across Algeria, however, with demonstrators demanding the departure of all Bouteflika-era officials, including Bensalah.


On Thursday, the Sudanese army announced the “removal” of President Omar al-Bashir and the imposition of a two-year transitional phase to be overseen by the military.

It also announced the imposition of a three-month countrywide state of emergency, along with the suspension of Sudan’s 2005 constitution.

The army further announced the dissolution of the Sudanese presidency, parliament and council of ministers.

Sudan had been shaken by protests since last December, with demonstrators demanding the resignation of al-Bashir, who had ruled Sudan since 1989.

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