A military council took control of Sudan and arrested longtime President Omar al-Bashir, the country’s military said earlier today. The move comes after opposition protesters recently gained new momentum in demanding al-Bashir leave office.
Sudan’s defense minister, Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, said the “regime” had been removed and its head arrested, as he announced the coup in a TV statement.
The minister said a transitional military council will rule the country for the next two years.
Protesters have been calling for al-Bashir’s removal for months. Thousands swarmed the capital Khartoum’s streets as the military promised to make an important announcement earlier Thursday.
Protests began in December 2018 over the price of bread after the government ended subsidies, but they quickly spread to political concerns with protesters demanding al-Bashir’s ouster. Since Saturday, tens of thousands have maintained a protest vigil near the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, the civil society group that has led protests since December, had called on residents to mobilize on Thursday for a sit-in. The group tweeted that the military leadership must “hand over power to the people.”
Sudan’s current crisis “cannot be addressed through another military coup,” the group said. The SPA called for protests to continue until power is handed over to a civil transitional government.
“We will not accept Bashir’s aides as part of the new situation,” protester Mohamed Adam told Reuters. “Those people have killed protesters.”
All eyes on the Sudanese military
Sudan gained independence from the U.K. and Egypt in 1956. Just two years later, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Abboud took power in a bloodless coup.
Riots and strikes in 1964 led to the military giving up control.
General Abdelrahman Swar al-Dahab led the military overthrow of Nimeiri in that coup. This time the military handed over power to a civilian government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi after elections in 1986.
Al-Bashir was in power almost 30 years. The International Criminal Court in the Hague issued several warrants for al-Bashir’s arrest in 2009 and 2010, mainly for genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region.