Sudan’s defense minister said that President Omar al-Bashir was taken into military custody on Thursday, effectively announcing a coup to end Bashir’s 30-year rule.
A two-year transition government administered by the military would take over, the constitution would be suspended, and a three-year state of emergency would be put in place, he said.
Sudan’s state media also reported that all political prisoners, including leaders of the protests that precipitated Bashir’s fall, were in the process of being released from jails around the country.
The announcement by Awad Ibn Auf, who is also Sudan’s vice president, came after four months of nationwide street protests sparked by price hikes on basic goods but also reflecting a deep-rooted desire for the replacement of his decades-old regime. Bashir is accused of crimes against humanity and genocide against his own people by the International Criminal Court.
The details of the apparent coup were unclear as was the future of a massive sit-in protest in the capital Khartoum as of Thursday morning. In anticipation of the army’s announcement, crowds assembled outside their headquarters in Khartoum chanted, “it has fallen, we have won.”
Last month, Bashir, 75, announced a state of emergency in response to the protests, giving the country’s powerful security apparatus nearly unlimited powers to disperse the hundreds of thousands of people who had gathered in the streets of Khartoum and other cities.
But after the sit-in began on April 6, divisions within the armed forces became increasingly visible as low-ranking officers began to join the protests. High-ranking officers followed by declaring their intention not to disperse the protesters.
Fighting between different factions of the security forces led to street battles, resulting in at least 11 deaths, including six members of the armed forces, the information minister said citing a police report. Dozens more were killed since protests began in mid-December, according to human rights groups.