Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir steps down

Bessie Dean
April 12, 2019

Sudanese celebrate after officials said the military had forced longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir to step down after 30 years in power in Khartoum, Sudan, Thursday, April 11, 2019.

The military dissolved the regime, parliament and state governments, said Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf.

A transitional military council would replace Bashir for two years, he said, adding that the country's borders and airspace would be shut until further notice.

The announcement raised expectations the statement Thursday could address almost four months of anti-government protests demanding that longtime President Omar al-Bashir step down and could be a sign that he is relinquishing power.

The protests, which erupted in December over the government's tripling of the price of bread, were the biggest challenge yet to Bashir's long rule.

The developments raised speculation that, behind the scenes, the military aimed to install one of its one in place of al-Bashir.

In what was clearly a last ditch effort to quell the protests, Bashir had imposed a state of emergency on February 22 after an initial crackdown failed to rein in the demonstrators. Mr Bashir is accused of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity there by the ICC.

As pressure mounted on al-Bashir to leave power, almost 50 people were killed in a series of protests that erupted in December, according to media reports.

Sudanese activists behind months-long protests against al-Bashir said hundreds who were detained over the demonstrations have already been freed.

Reports of Mr Al-Bashir's resignation came shortly after the soldiers reportedly surrounded his palace in the capital Khartoum.

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After months of protests over an ailing economy and a bid to oust Bashir, the crisis escalated over the weekend when thousands of demonstrators began camping out outside the Defence Ministry compound in central Khartoum, where Bashir's residence is located.

In an apparent concession to a demand of the protesters, the National Security and Intelligence Service said in a statement that all political detainees would be released.

"Ibn Auf is a symbol of the old regime and wants to maintain the interests of himself and Bashir", said protester Adela Isam.

As the news broke, crowds of protesters celebrated outside army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, embracing soldiers and climbing on top of armoured vehicles.

Ahead of the expected army statement, Sudanese radio played military marches and patriotic music.

Activists overseas pressed for Sudan to turn over Bashir to the International Criminal Court.

The United States calls "on transitional authorities to exercise restraint and to allow space for civilian participation within the government", State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.

In November a year ago, Sudan's Petroleum Minister Azhari Abdalla said that the country wanted to attract oil investments and would launch an exploration bid round in 2019, probably in the third quarter.

Facing an International Criminal Court arrest warrant over the death of an estimated 300,000 people in Darfur, Bashir held on to power as a shield against a trial similar to that of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

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