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Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir steps down from power: Sources

Government sources and a provincial minister have told the Reuters news agency that Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has stepped down from power and consultations are under way to form a transitional council.

Adel Mahjoub Hussein, the minister of production and economic resources in North Darfur,  told Dubai-based al-Hadath TV that “there are consultations to form a military council to take over power after President Bashir stepped down”.

Sudan’s armed forces will make an important announcement soon, state television said on Thursday as troops were deployed in Khartoum after months of protests against the president.

“The armed forces will present an important statement shortly. Be ready for it,” the announcement on state television read, without giving further details.

A Sudanese source also told Middle East Eye that Bashir had resigned.

A source told Reuters that Bashir was under house arrest with a number of aides at the presidential palace.

Earlier, the army and security services deployed troops around the palace, defence ministry and on major roads and bridges in Khartoum as thousands of people flocked to an anti-government protest outside the ministry, a witness said.

Khartoum international airport has also reportedly been shut down.

Protesters outside the defence ministry chanted: “It has fallen, we won.”

Why are Sudanese protesting against their government?

Hundreds of people have been taking to the streets of a series of towns and cities in Sudan since 19 December 2018 to protest a government decision to remove subsidies on wheat and electricity.

Sudan’s economy has been struggling over the past decade with inflation spiking to around 70 percent over the past year alone.

This has caused the price of bread to double, cash shortages and salaries left unpaid. The austerity measures adopted by the government are part of larger economic reforms proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The mobilisation on the ground against the price hikes – organised by a group known as the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) – found almost immediate resonance among opposition leaders, youth and women movements and rapidly turned into a larger show of discontent with 75-year-old President Omar al-Bashir.

Protesters have been reportedly chanting “freedom, peace, justice” and “revolution is the people’s choice” as they march through the streets of the capital, Khartoum.

Sudan’s armed forces have responded to protesters with tear gas and at times, live ammunition, mowing down at least 30 people, according to government figures.

Human Rights Watch, the international rights watchdog, says the death toll is closer to 51.

The protests have energised the Sudanese diaspora culminating in the biggest ever challenge to Bashir’s rule since he took over the country in 1989.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya TV also reported that Bashir had resigned and several officials were arrested, including the defence minister.

State television and radio played patriotic music, reminding older Sudanese of how military takeovers unfolded during previous episodes of civil unrest.

Divisive figure

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 harbouring Islamist militants.

Washington followed up with sanctions four years later.

Bashir has also been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over allegations of genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region during an insurgency that began in 2003.

The latest crisis has escalated since the weekend, when thousands of demonstrators began camping out outside the Defence Ministry compound in central Khartoum, 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 in the clashes, including six members of the armed forces, the information minister said citing a police report.

Since 19 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

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

The demonstrators at the Defence Ministry had said that they wanted to submit a petition for the armed forces to take their side in their attempt to remove Bashir and his administration.

Source : MEE and Agencies
Feature Image : Reuters

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