Omar al-Bashir, Sudanese President for 30 years until Wednesday, has been arrested, Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf has confirmed.
Addressing the Sudanese people on Thursday afternoon, Ibn Auf said al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (CC), had been “taken into custody in a safe place”.
He also announced a state of emergency for three months and a transitional period of two years, as well as a national ceasefire and the immediate release of all political prisoners.
“Despite all the suffering, despite all the lies, despite all the false promises, the Sudanese were patient, the Sudanese were tolerant, the Sudanese were generous,” he said.
Ibn Auf also praised the youth of Sudan for “taking to the streets in a very peaceful way”.
The demonstrations started in late December by university students angered by the tripling of the cost of bread.
When the ATMs ran out of cash shortly after, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) an umbrella group of doctors, lawyers and other activists, redirected the protests to call for the end of al-Bashir’s reign. The movement has since spread to nearly every state in Sudan, making it the biggest ever resistance effort against the government since al-Bashir became President in 1989.
As the number of protesters multiplied, state-led security forces cracked down on the civilians, firing tear gas during rallies, beating demonstrators in the streets, arresting them indiscriminately, and sometimes killing them. More than 65 people have died since the protests began.
While al-Bashir’s ouster continues to be celebrated, Sudanese activists have rejected Ibn Auf’s announcement of a two-year military council to oversee a transition of power. Instead, the activists are demanding the handover of power to a civilian government.
“This is a game on the Sudanese people, the street refuses totally the announcement by Ibn Auf,” activist Omar Al-Neel said following the Defence Minister’s televised address to the nation. “All of the Sudanese people are in the street and demanding the downfall of all the regime and not recycling the same people.”
The SPA has called on citizens across the capital and regions around the country to converge on the army headquarters for more protests.
“The regime has conducted a military coup to reproduce the same faces and entities that our great people have revolted against,” the SPA said in a statement.
A former military commander, al-Bashir came into power after leading a bloodless coup in 1989. The ICC charged the 75-year-old in 2009 and 2010 with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in Darfur, where between 200,000 and 300,000 people were killed and at least 2.7 million others were displaced.
Despite the international travel ban stemming from his arrest warrant, al-Bashir has made diplomatic trips to South Africa, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
SaharaReporters, New York