In 1969, Colonel Gaafar Muhammad Nimeiry (seen right), who three years earlier had graduated from the United States Army Command College in Fort Leavenworth, overthrew the government of newly-independent Sudan and became prime minister. Once in office, Nimeiry made full use of his powers, nationalizing banks and industries and brutally eliminating his enemies; he ordered an aerial bombardment in 1970 which killed several thousand opponents.
The following year, he was elected President. In 1972 Nimeiry signed an agreement granting autonomy to the non-Muslim southern region of Sudan, ushering in a period of relative stability to the region. He drafted a new constitution which insured his authority and sought ways to exploit the vast resources of the country, instigating initiatives to develop agriculture and industry, returning banks to private ownership and encouraging foreign investment. He was not able, however, to contain domestic opposition, and Sudan was rocked by several coup attempts. Read more