Omar al-Bashir forced to resign as Sudan’s president

Omar al-Bashir has resigned as president of Sudan.

Government officials and sources have told various local media that Bashir has stepped down and consultations are under way to set up a transitional “military” council to run the country.

Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide, came to power in a 1989 coup and was one of the longest serving presidents in Africa.

Weeks of protests, which erupted in December last year, have become the biggest challenge to Bashir’s three decades of rule.

The Sudanese army was today planning to make “an important announcement”, state media said after weeks of protests against the longtime leader.

“The Sudanese army will issue an important statement soon. Wait for it,” a television anchor said, without giving further details. The announcment now seems to be who will lead the transitional council and a plan for a way forward.

Today marks the sixth day of a defiant sit-in outside the military’s headquarters, which also houses Bashir’s official residence and the defence ministry.

Crowds of demonstrators have spent five nights thronging the sprawling complex, singing and dancing to revolutionary songs.

Earlier today, Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reporting from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, said there was a heavy security presence on the city’s main roads.

“There are a lot of military trucks around the capital and around the main streets of the city. Most roads have been blocked especially those leading to the army HQ. There are a few roads opened for the protesters who have been participating in the sit-in,” Morgan said.

“People are extremely happy even before the army made any announcement. People are celebrating and pouring in to the sit-in area. Protesters are saying they are very confident that Bashir will resign,” Morgan added.

Sudanese sources confirmed the report and told Reuters Bashir was at the presidential residence under “heavy guard.”

Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans and wave their national flag during a protest demanding Omar al-Bashir to step down outside the defence ministry in Khartoum on April 9. Picture: Reuters

Death toll

The demonstrators have braved repeated volleys of tear gas from members of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) since they began camping outside the complex on April 6, protest organisers say.

But for the first time on Tuesday night they did not face any “threat” from security agents, said a protester who requested anonymity for security reasons.

That came after 11 people, including six members of the security forces, were killed on Tuesday during demonstrations in the capital, government spokesman Hassan Ismail told the official SUNA news agency.

Officials say 49 people have died in protest-related violence since demonstrations first erupted in December.

Alaa Salah, an engineering and architecture student at Sudan International University, gestures during a protest demanding Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to step down along a bridge in Khartoum on April 8. Picture: Lana H. Haroun/Reuters

“I hope our revolution will achieve its goal,” said Alaa Salah, dubbed the protest movement’s “Nubian queen”, referring to an ancient name for Sudan, after a video clip went viral of her conducting chants with demonstrators outside the army headquarters.

Earlier this week, the US, Britain and Norway for the first time threw their weight behind the protesters.

“The time has come for the Sudanese authorities to respond to these popular demands in a serious way”, the countries’ Khartoum embassies said in a statement.

“The Sudanese authorities must now respond and deliver a credible plan for this political transition.”

Sudan, along with Iran, Syria and North Korea, is on Washington’s blacklist as state sponsors of “terrorism”.

Bashir came to power as a little-known general in 1989 during a military-backed coup. In the following years, he demonstrated a knack for political survival.

Bashir waged war across the south and west of his country, while his regime bombed civilians in the Nuba Mountains with warplanes and, according to the ICC, presided over war crimes in the Darfur region in the west.

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