Sudanese Officials Say Army Forced Autocratic President To Step Down

Oscar Cross
April 12, 2019

Sudan's armed forces will make an important announcement soon, state television said on Thursday as troops were deployed in Khartoum amid speculation that a coup attempt was underway against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir after months of protests.

Sudanese airspace would be closed for 24 hours and border crossings would be sealed until further notice, he said after he had apprised the country about the nationwide ceasefire.

Sudan's military has toppled President Omar al-Bashir after widespread protests against his almost 30-year rule.

The development followed deadly clashes between Sudanese security forces and protesters holding a large anti-government sit-in outside the military's headquarters in Khartoum, which also include a presidential residence.

Sudanese soldiers stand guard on armored vehicles as demonstrators protest against President Omar al-Bashir's regime near the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum Thursday.

The demonstrations changed from a narrowly economic agenda to demanding that President Bashir, who took power in a coup in June 1989, step down.

A three-month state of emergency has also been imposed, as protesters demand immediate set up of a democratic transition.

- 2009: The International Criminal Court issues a warrant for Bashir's arrest on war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Sudan President Bashir STEPS DOWN as tens of thousands march in protests against regime

Over his three decades in power, al-Bashir was forced to allow the secession of South Sudan after years of war, a huge blow to the north's economy.

He also said al-Bashir's heavy-handed security crackdown against protesters had risked cracking the security establishment.

Russia has been trying to expand its footprint in Africa and said in January that it had sent "instructors" to Sudan, following reports of sightings of Russian-speaking soldiers in Khartoum. Several months after he ascended to power in 1989, a group of officers tried to overthrow his government, in April 1990, but the coup was quickly foiled. It called on protesters to maintain a sit-in outside the defence ministry that started on Saturday, a source with the group said.

Thursday's brief statement by the National Security and Intelligence service did not indicate when the release would take place.

Bashir was backed by the National Islamic Front of his then mentor, the late Hassan al-Turabi.

Bashir's ouster "is extraordinary news", Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the former United Nations high commissioner for human rights, told FP.

In the wake of the coup, worldwide human rights groups urged Sudanese military authorities to hand over the 75-year-old al-Bashir to the global Criminal Court, where he faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for his deadly campaign against insurgents in the country's Darfur region. A timeline of events March 25: Protesters jailed, journalists march March 21: Bashir bans hoarding of cash March 21: Bashir reduces jail term for violating state of emergency March 17: Activists outline list of media repression March 14: Bashir hints of dialogue?

Since the current protests began December 19, the military has stated its support for the country's "leadership" and pledged to protect the people's "achievements" - without mentioning al-Bashir by name.


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