Sudanese army takes control, arrests President Omar al-Bashir
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President Omar al-Bashir has been detained and a military council will run the country for a two-year transitional period, Sudan's defense minister announced Thursday, bringing an end to Bashir’s 30-year reign.
In a statement broadcast on state TV, Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, dressed in military fatigues, said there would be elections at the end of the transition period.
The army also said it was imposing a night-time curfew and a ceasefire across the country.
Protests erupted against Bashir's regime in December over a government decision to end subsidies and a subsequent sharp rise in bread prices. The unrest quickly escalated into nationwide demonstrations in a country already grappling with regular shortages of food, medicine and cash.
Dozens of demonstrators have since been killed in clashes with security forces while hundreds more were wounded and thousands jailed.
The crisis reached a tipping point this week, with thousands of protesters camping outside the defence ministry compound in central Khartoum, where Bashir’s residence is located. Demonstrators said they wanted the armed forces to join them in their attempt to remove Bashir and his Islamist-backed administration.
Clashes erupted Tuesday between soldiers trying to protect the protesters and the intelligence and security personnel trying to disperse them. At least 11 people were killed including six members of the armed forces, the information minister said.
Opposition figures had also called for the military to help negotiate an end to Bashir’s nearly three decades in power and a transition to democracy.
More people joined the sit-in outside the defence ministry on Thursday, with protesters chanting: “It has fallen, we won.”
Many protest organisers in Sudan denounced the army's takeover and vowed to continue holding rallies until a civilian transitional government is formed.
Long wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes charges, Bashir was finally brought down in a popular uprising by the people he ruled with an iron fist for 30 years.
One of Africa's longest-serving presidents, Bashir had held the dubious honour of being the only sitting head of state indicted for war crimes.
The 75-year-old had remained defiant in the face of accusations, dismissing the ICC as being the “new face of colonisation”.
He went on to win re-election twice, despite being indicted in 2009 on war crimes charges related to the conflict in Darfur. In 2010 the ICC also indicted him for genocide.
A career soldier, Bashir was well known for his populist touch, insisting on being close to crowds and addressing them in colloquial Sudanese Arabic.
In his last-ditch effort to quell the protests, Bashir imposed a state of emergency on February 22. But in the end he could not weather the months of popular protests that left dozens of demonstrators dead in clashes with security forces.
His fate was sealed when the army bowed to the demands of the street and intervened on Thursday to oust Bashir, who swept to power in a coup backed by Islamists in 1989.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP and AFP)