Sudan's military stages coup, ousts long-time president in face of protests

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

Sudan strongman Omar al-Bashir, who ruled in autocratic style for 30 years, was overthrown as president and arrested in a coup by the armed forces on Thursday, with protesters quickly taking to the streets to demand that the military hand over power to civilians.

Sudan's defence minister has announced the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir and the creation of a military council to govern the country for the next two years, ending the 30-year rule of one of Africa's longest-surviving autocrats after four months of daily street protests against him.

There could be a disconnect, however, between senior military officials and mid-ranking officers who are sympathetic to the demonstrators, Soliman said.

President Omar al-Bashir has maintained a tight clasp on the country's governance for almost three decades, having taken office in 1989. "There is also potential for increased violence and fragmentation if demands for a genuine transition towards an inclusive transitional civilian government are not met".

Sudanese soldiers stand guard on armoured military vehicles as demonstrators continue their protest against the regime near the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on April 11, 2019.

After the televised announcement of al-Bashir's arrest by Defense Minister Awad Mohammed Ibn Ouf - who is himself under US sanctions for links to atrocities in Sudan's Darfur conflict - many protesters chanted angrily, "The first one fell, the second will, too".

His comments came after Sudan's army announced "the toppling of the regime", to be replaced by a transitional military council, but there was growing global pressure for a handover to civilian rule.

He also declared a three-month state of emergency and suspended Sudan's constitution and imposed the month-long curfew, from 10pm to 4am.

Protests against Bashir, who took power in a coup in 1989, have been under way since December. He kept an iron grip on power and brutally suppressed any opposition, while monopolizing the economy through allied businessmen.

Amnesty International's secretary general, Kumi Naidoo, said al-Bashir is wanted for "some of the most odious human rights violations of our generation".

No U.S. citizens have been reported injured.

Security and army forces have taken position on major roads and bridges in the Sudanese capital; they've also been deployed around the defense ministry.

Since early morning huge crowds of jubilant Sudanese had begun thronging squares across the center of Khartoum on Thursday as the army promised an "important announcement". That prompted thousands of protesters to march toward the centre of Khartoum, cheering, singing and dancing in celebration.

Opposition figures have called for the military to help negotiate an end to Bashir's almost three decades in power and a transition to democracy.

During the announcement of the removal of the "regime" and detention of its head, Ibnouf was quoted telling news agency AFP, "I announce as minister of defence the toppling of regime and detaining its chief in a secure place". Al-Bashir banned unauthorized public gatherings and granted sweeping powers to the police since imposing a state of emergency in February. "Hope in equality has been lost".

In addition to relying on Islamist ideology, Al-Bashir used the country's oil wealth to boost a class of businessmen loyal to him and created loyal militias to protect his rule, employing them to crack down on rebels in the country's western Darfur region.

Mariam al-Mahdi, a leading member of the opposition Umma, called the military's takeover "a risky move".

Cairo voiced its full belief in "the ability of the brotherly Sudanese people and their loyal national army to overcome the challenges of this critical order to achieve stability, prosperity and development", a foreign ministry statement said.

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