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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

Bashir Forced to Step Down By Military After Decades of Autocratic Power

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was forced to step down by the military on Thursday after three decades of autocratic power, and moves were under way to form a transitional council to run the country, Sudanese sources said.

Government sources and the minister of production and economic resources in North Darfur, Adel Mahjoub Hussein, told Dubai-based al-Hadath TV that Bashir’s presidency was over and consultations were being held on creating a ruling military council.

Sudanese sources told Reuters that Bashir, 75, was at the presidential residence under “heavy guard”. A son of Sadiq al-Mahdi, the head of the country’s main opposition Umma Party, told al-Hadath TV that Bashir was under house arrest along with “a number of leaders of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group”.
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Early on Thursday morning, state television said the military would make an announcement soon. But hours later no statement had been issued, amid reports of differences about the make-up of the transitional council.

Some demonstrators, who have rallied against Bashir since Dec. 19, said they feared the delay would allow him to go into exile.

State television and radio played patriotic music, a reminder of how military takeovers unfolded during previous episodes of civil unrest.

Troops deployed around the defense ministry and on major roads and bridges in the capital.

Thousands of people flocked to an anti-government protest outside the ministry, while huge crowds took to the streets in central Khartoum, dancing and shouting anti-Bashir slogans. Protesters chanted: “It has fallen, we won.”

Omar Saleh Sennar, a senior member of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, one of the main protest groups, said it was waiting for the army statement and expected to negotiate with the military over a transfer of power from Bashir.

Sudanese demonstrators wave their national flag as they arrive for a protest rally demanding Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to step down outside the Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 11, 2019.

“We will only accept a transitional civilian government,” Sennar told Reuters.

Kamal Omar, 38, another demonstrator, said: “We will continue our sit-in until we prevail.”

Soldiers stormed the headquarters of Bashir’s Islamic Movement, the main component of the ruling National Congress Party, a Reuters witness said.

MILITARY RULE AGAIN?

Names of Bashir’s possible successors that have been circulating include the defense minister, an ex-military intelligence chief, also an Islamist, and former army chief of staff Emad al-Din Adawi.

Adawi is said to be favored by regional neighbors at odds with Bashir over his Islamist leanings.

Demonstrators called for a civilian government and said they would not accept an administration led by military and security figures, or by Bashir’s aides.

Omar Saleh Sennar, a senior member of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, said it expected to negotiate with the military over a transfer of power.

“We will only accept a transitional civilian government,” Sennar told Reuters.

Kamal Omar, 38, another demonstrator, said: “We will continue our sit-in until we prevail.”

Some demonstrators, who have rallied against Bashir since Dec. 19, said they feared the delay would allow him to go into exile.

Troops deployed around the defense ministry and on major roads and bridges in the capital.

Soldiers stormed the headquarters of Bashir’s Islamic Movement, the main component of the ruling National Congress Party. Protesters also attacked the offices of Sudan’s intelligence and security service in the eastern cities of Port Sudan and Kassala on Thursday, witnesses said.

Auf announced the release of all political prisoners.

FATE UNCLEAR

It was not known what would now happen to Bashir.

He has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, ICC, in The Hague and is facing an arrest warrant over allegations of genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region during an insurgency that began in 2003 and led to death of an estimated 300,000 people.

Bashir, a former paratrooper who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1989, has been a divisive figure who has managed his way through one internal crisis after another while withstanding attempts by the West to weaken him.

Sudan has suffered prolonged periods of isolation since 1993, when the United States added Bashir’s government to its list of terrorism sponsors for harboring Islamist militants. Washington followed up with sanctions four years later.

The latest crisis has escalated since the weekend, when thousands of demonstrators began camping out outside the defense ministry compound, where Bashir’s residence is located.

Clashes erupted on Tuesday between soldiers trying to protect the protesters and intelligence and security personnel trying to disperse them. At least 11 people died, including six members of the armed forces, the information minister said, citing a police report.

Since December, Sudan has been rocked by persistent protests sparked by the government’s attempt to raise the price of bread, and an economic crisis that has led to fuel and cash shortages.

REUTERS

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