Abdul Rahman Swar al-Dahab, the Sudanese defense minister and military commander who seized power Saturday, was described as a career military man 'who does not believe the army should get involved in politics.'
Born in 1934 in the Sudanese city of Omdurman, al-Dahab entered a military academy when he was 20 and graduated four years later as a second lieutenant.
Al-Dahab, who neither drinks nor smokes, is said to be a mild-tempered man with a moustache and salt-and-pepper hair. He is married, with two sons and three daughters, and belongs to the little-known Islamic sect of Khatimiya.
Al-Dahab, who has studied military theory in Britain and Jordan, worked briefly as a Sudanese military attache in Uganda.
He also served in the police force of the Persian Gulf country of Qatar, where he held the rank of colonel. He was later promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the Qatari army.
In 1975, he returned to Sudan, where he held the rank of commander of the armed forces supply department and then chief of the southern command.
The latter position gave al-Dahab an opportunity to study the problems of the mainly Christian and animist south, which traditionally has been opposed to the central government in Khartoum, which is in the mainly Moslem north.
His next position was commander in charge of operations in the north.
He later became deputy chief of staff of the army under President Jaafar Numeiry, the man al-Dahab and two other military officials ousted from power.
In a recent Cabinet reshuffle, al-Dahab, who was considered strongly loyal to Numeiry before the coup, was named defense minister and chief of staff of Sudan's 60,000-man army.
Numeiry had asked al-Dahab to become his chief of staff three years ago, but he declined on health grounds. It was not immediately known what kind of health problem he had.
Last May, he led a large number of troops in an oath of allegiance to Numeiry in Khartoum's large Friendship Hall.
Ibrahim Taha Ayub, the Sudanese ambassador to Kenya, described Al-Dahab as 'a military man who does not believe the army should get involved in politics -- strictly a military man without any political ambitions.'