Tens of thousands of Sudanese marched toward the center of the capital Khartoum on Thursday, cheering, singing and dancing in celebration as two senior officials announced that the military had forced longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir to step down after 30 years in power.
Omar al-Bashir had been ruling Sudan since 1989.
Speaking on a state TV, Awad Ibn Ouf who is the defence minister and first Vice President said the army had decided to oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections. He also said a three-month state of emergency was being put in place.
Ouf added that the “regime” was being removed and Bashir would be kept in a safe place.
The mass protests is sweeping across several Arab nations since 2011. Several protests waves swept across several to oust leaders in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen. A week ago Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 20 years, resigned in response to similar demonstrations.
The developments raised speculations that the military aims to install one of its one in place of al-Bashir. Organizers of the protests that have drawn tens of thousands into the streets reject that, seeing it as a way for the armed forces to keep the power that it has held under al-Bashir. Instead, they demand a civilian transitional government.
The movement called on protesters to keep up the pressure by continuing their main sit in outside the military’s headquarters in Khartoum. “We are not leaving. We urge the revolutionaries not to leave the sit-in,” the association said, warning against attempts to “reproduce the old regime.”
National Security and Intelligence Service said in a statement that all political detainees would be released. It did not indicate when the release would take place.
Sudan’s protests initially erupted last December with rallies against a worsening economy, but quickly escalated into calls for an end to embattled al-Bashir’s rule. They gained new momentum last week after Bouteflika’s resignation.
Security forces tried repeatedly to break up the sit-in protests since Saturday, in violence that killed at least 22 people.
Early Thursday morning, the military took over key installations around Khartoum. Armored vehicles and tanks were parked in the streets and near bridges over the Nile River. Reports also suggest that the airport in the Sudanese capital had been closed.
Ahead of the expected army statement, Sudanese radio played military marches and patriotic music. State TV ceased regular broadcasts, showing only the statement promising the statement and urging the public to “wait for it.”
Thousands waited at the sit-in as crowds of protesters moved through the city converging on the site. The marchers waved flags, flashed “V for victory” signs and sang and danced. Some rode on the roofs of cars, moving slowly and honking horns in celebration.
But the hours without an army statement raised fears among protesters that the military was seeking to keep its control.
Al-Bashir came to power in a 1989 coup, leading an alliance of the military and Islamist hard-liners. Since then, the military has stuck by him, even as he was forced to allow the separation of South Sudan and as he became a pariah in many countries, wanted by by the international war crimes tribunal for atrocities in Darfur.
Source : Various