The Sudanese army has removed President Omar al-Bashir from power after 30 years, after months of protests that intensified over the weekend when protesters started a sit-in outside the defense ministry complex in the center of Khartoum.
Bashir was arrested "in a safe place," said the Sudanese Defense Minister and General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf general in a statement released to the state media. A military council will take control of the country for two years, after which the elections will be held, Ibn Auf added.
"For a long time, examining what is happening in the state and the corruption that is happening," he said. "The poor are poorer and the rich are still rich and there are no equal opportunities for the same people".
The military seized control of state television shortly after Thursday's dawn, in the midst of unconfirmed reports that Bashir was under house arrest at his residence in the Defense Ministry complex. It has also been reported that several prominent figures close to Bashir in the ruling ruling party have been detained.
Ibn Auf stated that the political detainees would be released but that the state of emergency would continue for three months and that the curfew from 22 to 4 would be applied for at least a month. All doors will remain closed for 24 hours.
Sudan, one of the largest and strategically important countries in Africa, has been paralyzed by months of protests that broke out on December 19 in the eastern city of Atbara after a government decision to triple the price of bread, but it soon evolved in demonstrations at national level against the Bashir government.
Although the removal of Bashir from power was welcomed by protesters, the army's decision to impose a curfew is a direct challenge to the thousands of people who occupied a crossroads in central Khartoum for five days. At the moment it is not clear how the protesters will react, raising fears of bloodshed if they refuse to disperse.
Attempts by security forces to break the Khartoum sit-in have already killed at least 22 people, including five soldiers, who according to the organizers defended the protesters, injuring over 150.
The army has gained considerable good will among the protesters, protecting them from the security services and pro-Bashir militias in recent days. At the beginning of this week, opposition leaders called for military intervention to form a transitional government.
"The Sudanese always believe that the transition should pass through the army. Everyone is aware of what the instability could cause. Any chaos could have a very high cost," Saif told Din Abdelrahman, an economist Sudanese and expert based in Kenya.
Shortly after Thursday's dawn, Sudanese state television "followed an important announcement" without giving further details.
As expected, state television and radio played patriotic music, reminding the older Sudanese of the way in which past military acquisitions took place in the country and images of recent protests. Despite the lack of concrete information on what was happening for much of the morning, tens of thousands of Sudanese marched into the center of Khartoum in jubilation, dancing and chanting anti-Bashir slogans. Protesters outside the Ministry of Defense sang: "He fell, we won".
There have been sporadic protests in other parts of the country and some reports of filming by security services.
The images published on social media have shown that people break down the posters depicting the president of Khartoum and marching on prisons and police stations.
Bashir is a former paratrooper who gained power in a bloodless coup in 1989 and made his way through an internal crisis after another, resisting attempts by the West to weaken it.
The 75-year-old faces accusations of genocide against the International Criminal Court in connection with the extensive human rights violations perpetrated by Sudanese forces against civilians in Darfur, a western region taken by the conflict since 2003 when the rebels took up arms against the government, accusing him of discrimination and negligence. The UN says that 300,000 people died in the conflict and 2.7 million fled their homes.
However, many other leaders and governments in Africa have defended Bashir.
In October 2017, the United States loosened sanctions against Sudan, citing improved humanitarian access, conflict mitigation within the country and progress in counter-terrorism. Human rights organizations have condemned the move.
Ibn Auf is himself a controversial figure, blacklisted by Washington for his role as head of the army of intelligence and military security during the conflict in Darfur. He has been defense minister since 2015 and was promoted in February by Bashir as first vice president.
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