Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was forced to step down by the military on Thursday after three decades of autocratic power, and moves were underway to form a transitional council to run the country, Sudanese sources said.
Government sources and the minister of production and economic resources in North Darfur, Adel Mahjoub Hussein, told Dubai-based al-Hadath channel that Bashir had stepped down and consultations were taking place to form a ruling military council.
Sudanese sources told Reuters that Bashir, 75, was deposed by the army and was at the presidential residence under “heavy guard.”
The military will make an announcement soon, state media said as troops deployed around the Defense Ministry and on major roads and bridges in the capital.
Soldiers stormed the headquarters of Bashir’s Islamic Movement, the main component of the ruling National Congress Party, a Reuters witness said.
Thousands of people flocked to an anti-government protest outside the Defense Ministry, while huge crowds took to the streets in central Khartoum, dancing and chanting anti-Bashir slogans.
Protesters outside the Defense Ministry chanted: “It has fallen, we won.”
One protester, speaking to Arabiya news channel, said reports were circulating that Bashir’s deputy and Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf would replace him, but this was unacceptable to the demonstrators.
“We expect good news, joyful news that we have awaited for 30 years,” demonstrator Nadine Ala al-Din said.
It was not known what would now happen to Bashir.
He has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague and is facing an arrest warrant over allegations of genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region during an insurgency that began in 2003 and led to the death of an estimated 300,000 people.
Bashir, a former paratrooper who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1989, has been a divisive figure who has managed his way through one internal crisis after another while withstanding attempts by the West to weaken him.
Sudan has suffered prolonged periods of isolation since 1993, when the United States added Bashir’s government to its list of terrorism sponsors for harboring Islamist terrorists. Washington followed up with sanctions four years later.
The latest crisis has escalated since the weekend, when thousands of demonstrators began camping out outside the Defense Ministry compound in central Khartoum, where Bashir’s residence is located.
Clashes erupted on Tuesday between soldiers trying to protect the protesters and intelligence and security personnel trying to disperse them. At least 11 people died in the clashes, including six members of the armed forces, the information minister said, citing a police report.
Since Dec. 19, Sudan has been rocked by persistent protests sparked by the government’s attempt to raise the price of bread, and an economic crisis that has led to fuel and cash shortages.
Opposition figures have called for the military to help negotiate an end to Bashir’s nearly three decades in power and a transition to democracy.
The demonstrators at the Defense Ministry had said that they wanted to submit a petition for the armed forces to take their side in their attempt to remove Bashir and his Islamist-backed administration.