After nearly three decades in power, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been removed from power and detained by the army, Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf says.
“I announce as minister of defense the toppling of the regime and detaining its chief in a secure place,” Auf said in a statement broadcast on state TV, adding that the military will rule Sudan directly for a two-year transition period before fresh elections.
“We have replaced him with a transitional military council for two years and have suspended Sudan’s 2005 constitution,” the defense minister said.
Auf declared a three-month state of emergency and imposed a one-month curfew from 10 pm to 4 am. He said the country’s airspace would be also closed for 24 hours and border crossings sealed until further notice.
The military council has also declared a nationwide ceasefire, which includes the war-torn regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan where Bashir’s government had long been battling ethnic minority rebels, Auf said.
Army vehicles carrying troops were seen deploying across the center of the capital Khartoum from early Thursday. Troops raided the offices of the ideological wing of Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party.
Thousands of people packed the streets of Khartoum to protest against the army’s announcement that Bashir would be replaced by a military-led transitional council, a Reuters witness said.
The mood among protesters who earlier celebrated Bashir’s expected departure had turned to anger, and many chanted, “Fall, again!” — adapting an earlier anti-Bashir chant of “Fall, that’s all!”, Reuters added.
According to State news agency, SUNA, Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service on Thursday also announced the release of all political prisoners across the country,
Witnesses said one of those released was Mohammed Naji Elasam, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the main organizer of protests being held across Sudan since December. Elasam had been detained for more than three months.
Protesters have spent five nights defiantly camped outside the sprawling headquarters complex, which also houses Bashir’s official residence and the defense ministry.
They had earlier stormed the buildings of the powerful intelligence services in two eastern cities after officers refused to release political prisoners.
Later on Thursday, the government of Egypt expressed its “complete support” for the people of Sudan and their army in the political transition to follow the ouster of Bashir.
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 stage… in order to achieve stability, prosperity and development,” a Foreign Ministry statement said, stressing that Egypt respects Sudan’s sovereignty and its national decisions.
Sudan has been struggling with protests since December 17, when an anti-government campaign erupted over price hikes and shortages of food and fuel. That initial public display of anger quickly spiraled into calls for the 75-year-old Bashir to resign.
The embattled president declared a state of emergency, dissolved the central government, and replaced state governors with security officials, but the protests did not stop.
In January, Bashir lamented that he had fallen for advice from unknown parties to normalize ties with Israel in order to ensure stability in his country, but had seen the situation spiral out of hand.
Last month, London-based Middle East Eye reported that the head of Mossad had met with his Sudanese counterpart in Germany as part of a secret plan by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to oust Bashir.
Iran: Sudan’s developments internal issue of country
Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday that the Islamic Republic’s principled position toward developments in Sudan was not to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.
Bahram Qassemi emphasized that what is going on in Sudan is an internal matter of that country.
“Iran has always sought and will always seek stability and security of Muslim countries and we hope all Sudanese sides would pursue their demands while exercising self-restraint and taking advantage of the policy of interaction and dialogue through peaceful means,” Qassemi noted.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman also expressed hope that calm and stability would soon return to the African country.