Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir resigns amidst protests
Omar Al-Bashir, a political hardliner and controversial leader of Sudan, has stepped down after 30 years in power, reports said Thursday.
United Arab Emirates-based Al-Arabiya network reported that Mr Al-Bashir resigned his position with immediate effect. Reuters also cited government sources as saying Mr Al-Bashir has stepped down and a new government was being formed.
The 75-year-old has reportedly handed over to the country’s supreme military council controlled by the armed forces.
His ouster follows days of protests that have engulfed the country, which is amongst the largest by land mass in Africa.
Reports of Mr Al-Bashir’s resignation came shortly after the soldiers reportedly surrounded his palace in the capital Khartoum.
Agence France-Press cited state television as announcing the military was gearing for an important message to the nation, but the statement did not appear to have come before Mr Al-Bashir’s reported exit.
Additional details of Mr Al-Bashir’s ouster were still sketchy as of early Thursday morning in Abuja, as other claims on social media said it came through a military coup d’etat.
Mr Al-Bashir has been highly unpopular amongst Western powers and was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2008 for alleged crimes stemming from the genocide in Darfur.
While he remained an unwelcome political figure in the West, African leaders, however, largely stood behind him, dismissing the charges against him as a witch-hunt and refusing to hand him over for prosecution at The Hague.
He seized power in 1989 as a military general and has served the longest since the country gained independence in 1956.
Heavy chants against Mr Al-Bashir’s reign rented the air across the county, and solidarity songs by the military were reported to be playing on the airwaves.
The minister of defence has been tipped as the head of the military council now in charge of the country. It was not immediately clear when new elections would be held.
Al-Arabiya reports that several former and current officials, including a former vice president, have been detained.
Airports have been shut down and some broadcast stations were said to have been taken over by soldiers.
Protesters have been asked to move to the main square for a further sit-in. Protesters are matching to the military headquarters, demanding that the military should only supervise the ouster of Mr Al-Bashir, but not take over power in its aftermath.
Mr Al-Bashir has reportedly fled to Saudi Arabia, but details of this development are also still sketchy.
More than 50 persons were reported to have been killed since agitation for Mr Al-Bashir to leave power took off in December.
This is a developing story, additional details will be provided.