Sudan Army Topples Veteran Leader Bashir, Protesters Vow More Demos

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Sudan's army ousted veteran president Omar al-Bashir Thursday, but protestors against his iron-fisted rule swiftly rejected a "coup" by the military and vowed to keep up their demonstrations.

In a sombre televised address, Defense Minister Awad Ibnouf announced "the toppling of the regime" and said Bashir had been detained in "a secure place", bringing an end to his three-decade rule.

A transitional military council will replace the president for two years, he said, adding that the country's borders and airspace would be shut until further notice.

But in a warning to protestors, he also imposed a night-time curfew from 10:00pm (2000 GMT) to 4:00 am (0200 GMT).

Bashir, who swept to power in a 1989 coup, was one of Africa's longest-serving presidents. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes.

But organizers of the protests, which first erupted in December, rejected the army's move and vowed to keep up their campaign until the whole regime was swept aside.

"The people do not want a transitional military council," said Alaa Salah, who became an icon of the protest movement after a video of her leading demonstrators' chants outside army headquarters went viral.

"Change will not happen with Bashir's entire regime hoodwinking Sudanese civilians through a military coup," she tweeted. 

"We want a civilian council to head the transition."

The protestors' Alliance for Freedom and Change said the regime had "conducted a military coup by bringing back the same faces and the same institutions which our people rose against."

It urged people "to continue their sit-in in front of army headquarters and across all regions and in the streets."

- 'We're not leaving' -

Since early Thursday morning, huge crowds of jubilant Sudanese had filled squares across the center of Khartoum as the army promised an "important announcement."

Chanting "the regime has fallen," they poured into the open ground outside army headquarters, where defiant protesters had braved tear gas and gunfire to keep up an unprecedented sit-in, now in its sixth day.

But the festive mood later soured, as protestors chanted: "We don't want Ibnouf!"

"We are not leaving, we are not leaving. Just fall and that's all," they shouted.

The opposition Sudanese Congress Party called on the military council to dissolve itself and form "a joint military and civilian council to run the government for a four-year transition term."

It also urged the army to give executive powers to civilians.

Adel, a protestor outside army headquarters, said Thursday's announcement meant "we have not achieved anything."

"We will not stop our revolution. We are calling for the regime to step down, not only Bashir," he said.

Army vehicles carrying troops were seen deploying across the center of Khartoum from early Thursday.

Troops raided the offices of the Islamic Movement, the ideological wing of Bashir's ruling National Congress Party, witnesses told AFP. 

Martial music was played on state television as soldiers ordered the TV to halt its normal programming ahead of Ibnouf's announcement.

Outside army headquarters, dozens of joyful protesters early Thursday climbed on top of landcruisers and armored vehicles that had been posted to protect them from intervention by other branches of the security forces.

Braving the searing 42 degree Celsius (108 degree Fahrenheit) heat, they hugged and kissed soldiers in the crowd.

- Prisoner release -

The military council said it was declaring a ceasefire across the country, including in war-torn Darfur.

Meanwhile, Sudan's feared intelligence service said it was freeing all the country's political prisoners, state media reported.

"The National Intelligence and Security Service has announced it is releasing all political detainees across the country," the official SUNA news agency said.

But in the eastern cities of Kasala and Port Sudan, the releases failed to materialize, prompting protesters to storm NISS buildings, witnesses said.

That came despite protest organizers urging demonstrators to refrain from attacking government figures or buildings.

Demonstrators have spent five nights defiantly camped outside the sprawling army headquarters complex in Khartoum, which also houses Bashir's official residence and the defence ministry.

"We had enough of this regime -- 30 years of repression, corruption, rights abuses, it's enough," said one protester at the sit-in.

The demonstrators have braved repeated volleys of tear gas from NISS members since they began camping outside the complex on Saturday, protest organizers say.

Officials say 49 people have died in protest-related violence since the demonstrations first erupted in December.

Neighbouring Egypt, where President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in similar circumstances, said Thursday it supported the Sudanese people and the army in their political transition.

Comments 6
Thumb Mystic 1 year

You seem to forget Omar Al Bashir is pro Saudi and he have send many Sudanese soldiers to their deaths in Yemen, in support of the Saudi coalition.

Thumb s.o.s 1 year

So what if he’s a Saudi puppet? You really are brainwashed! These dictators must go, Sisi, Bashar, Bashir and the others are living on borrowed time. I couldn’t care less about a Saudi or Iranian political agenda unlike you although Saudi Arabia doesn’t have an armed terrorist organization in Lebanon. You need to snap out of your binary way of thinking....
I’m loyal to my country, not to a foreign state, I don’t take my instructions abroad either unlike the average mite.

Thumb whyaskwhy 1 year

Exactly so what if he was born and bred in KSA plus is the legitimate son of the mehdi himself? if he is a dictator and has starved his people for so long then his time is up. Let Iran and KSA go to the diablos himself Lebanon is first and in this particular case the Sudanese people are better of for it. There has to be a time as you get older mastic that you look into a mirror and ask your self a simple question, Do you want to go through life echoing what a bearded goat tells you all the time?

Thumb s.o.s 1 year

YaskY, he's directly responsible for the death of 2 millions... it's unforgivable. sadly, the new self proclaimed leader is his #2 and was involved in the same atrocities, the Sudanese people won't let him hijack their revolution.

Thumb rover98 1 year

Stop Arabia blah blah Saudia Arabia Blah Blah.
Iranian influence would be better because ????????????

Thumb rover98 1 year

Photo is wrong, Its South Sudanese Army.