Sudan protesters defy curfew after army topples president Omar al-Bashir

Sudan protesters defy curfew after army topples president Omar al-BashirSudanese president Omar al-Bashir was deposed by the country's military on Thursday, but protesters against his iron-fisted rule defied a night-time curfew to rally against the military "coup".  In a televised address, Sudan's defence minister said the military would rule the country directly for a two year transition period before fresh elections.  General Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibnouf, who is also a vice president and was seen as an ally of Mr Bashir, said the long-serving dictator was in a “safe place.” "I announce as minister of defence the toppling of the regime and detaining its chief in a secure place," Gen Ibnouf said. He declared a three-month state of emergency and imposed a one-month 10 pm curfew. He said airspace would be closed for 24 hours and border crossings sealed until further notice. Mr Bashir is a former solider who ran a brutal dictatorship after coming to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989. He is a pariah in many countries and is also wanted by the international war crimes tribunal for atrocities in Darfur. Crowds are carrying a giant flag of Sudan as they march towards the military headquarters in Khartoum. The military is expected to make a statement following reports of President Omar al-Bashir's resignation pic.twitter.com/draKmgfS8C— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) April 11, 2019 His overthrow follows four months of nationwide protests against his 30-year rule, and there were scenes of jubilation in Khartoum on Thursday morning as rumours spread that he had been deposed. But Gen Ibnouf’s early afternoon announcement was greeted with unease by the opposition movement that has brought tens of thousands of protesters onto the streets in recent weeks. Although demonstrators had called on the army to intervene against the president, the defence minister is deeply unpopular among the opposition and widely seen as a Bashir ally. Hundreds of Sudanese protesters maintained their sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum for the fifth day in a row Credit: Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Several protesters on the streets of Khartoum told The Telegraph ahead of the announcement they would not accept him as a replacement for Bashir. Minutes before the announcement, Alaa Salah, the 22 year old woman who has become an icon of the protests, tweeted: “We are waiting for a statement by the army. We will only accept a transitional civilian government composed of the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change. No other plan will be acceptable.” She later added: "The people do not want a transitional military council. Change will not happen with Bashir’s entire regime hoodwinking Sudanese civilians through a military coup. We want a civilian council to head the transition." Thousands of protesters staged a sit-in for the sixth night running outside Khartoum army headquarters as the military council's curfew began. The army had earlier warned protesters not to defy the curfew. Well after nightfall, tens of thousands beat drums, sang and chanted slogans against the armed forces and Ibn Ouf.  "The first one fell, the second will, too!" protesters shouted. And: "They removed a thief and brought in a thief!" Washington said Khartoum should "exercise restraint and to allow space for civilian participation within the government". "The Sudanese people should determine who leads them and their future and the Sudanese people have been clear and are demanding a civilian-led transition," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters. The European Union urged the army to carry out a "swift" handover to civilian rule. The Sudanese Professionals Association, the umbrella group of trade unions that has coordinated the protest movement, had earlier warned that it would not accept an internal military coup. The people do not want a transitional military council. Change will not happen with Bashir’s entire regime hoodwinking Sudanese civilians through a military coup. We want a civilian council to head the transition. Sudan— Alaa Salah (@iAlaaSalah) April 11, 2019 They issued a statement vowing to remain in the streets until the "regime steps down completely and power is handed to a civilian transitional government." Demonstrations against Mr Bashir's rule initially broke out in the northeastern town of Atabara after the price of bread tripled in December. Protests quickly spread to other cities and morphed from an outpouring of indignation at economic conditions into demands for Mr Bashir to step down. The regime responded with a brutal crackdown, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and live rounds to break up demonstrations and arrested ringleaders and even doctors who treated injured protesters.  The movement culminated in massive protests in the capital, beginning on April 6, when opposition leaders called a “one million person” march towards the army’s headquarters to mark the anniversary of the bloodless coup that overthrew Gaafar Nimeriy, another president who faced mass discontent. In conscious emulation of 1985, the SPA called for a sit-in outside army headquarters to call on the military to protect the demonstrators. Sudan uprising, in pictures The first sign of a rupture within the regime came when soldiers inside the compound intervened to prevent security personnel from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) clearing the demonstration on Monday and Tuesday.   Several people were killed in the clashes, which prompted fears of a wider conflict between the multiplicity of armed forces, security agencies, and militia groups Mr Bashir set up to challenge one another and consolidate his rule.  Thousands sang and danced on Thursday morning when the army said on state media it would be making an important announcement, in what many took as a sign the revolution had succeeded. Later in the morning, several officials pre-empted the military and told the media that Mr Bashir had been arrested. As the morning wore on, officials said that all political prisoners would be released, but it was not clear when. Meanwhile, troops were deployed at key points around the capital and soldiers were seen entered the headquarters of Mr Bashir's Islamic Movement, the main component of the ruling National Congress Party. Some protesters surrounded and entered houses belonging to prominent Bashir allies in Khartoum, and there were unconfirmed reports of crowds storming buildings belonging to NISS. The Alliance for Freedom and Change, which has been involved in supporting the protests, urged the people "not to attack" government and private properties as they awaited  the army’s announcement. "We are calling on our people to control themselves and not to attack anybody or government and private properties," the Alliance for Freedom and Change said in a statement. "Anyone found doing this will be punished by law. Our revolution is peaceful.”



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