'It has fallen, we won': Sudan military expected to announce end of Bashir rule after months of protests

The word "Freedom" in Arabic spelled out using stones in the middle of a street in front of the military headquarters housing President Omar al-Bashir's official residence in the capital Khartoum.
The word "Freedom" in Arabic spelled out using stones in the middle of a street in front of the military headquarters housing President Omar al-Bashir's official residence in the capital Khartoum.PHOTO: AFP

KHARTOUM (REUTERS) - Sudan's armed forces will make an important announcement soon, state television said on Thursday (April 11) as troops were deployed in Khartoum and sources reported a coup attempt against President Omar al-Bashir after months of protests.

"The armed forces will present an important statement shortly. Be ready for it," the announcement on state television read, without giving further details.

Sudanese sources said the army will likely announce a transition of power from Mr Bashir to a council headed by military figures to end Mr Bashir's 30 years in power.

A Sudanese source told Reuters Mr Bashir was under house arrest with a number of aides at the presidential palace.

The army and security services deployed troops around the Defence Ministry and on major roads and bridges in Khartoum as thousands of people flocked to an anti-government protest outside the ministry, a Reuters witness said.

Tens of thousands of Sudanese marched through the centre of the capital Khartoum in jubilation, dancing and chanting anti-Bashir slogans.

Protesters outside the Defence Ministry chanted: "It has fallen, we won."

Al Arabiya TV reported that Mr Bashir had resigned, but this was not confirmed.

 
 

State television and radio played patriotic music, reminding older Sudanese of how military takeovers unfolded during previous episodes of civil unrest.

DIVISIVE FIGURE

Mr 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 Mr Bashir's government to its list of terrorism sponsors for harbouring Islamist militants.

Washington followed up with sanctions four years later.

Mr Bashir has also been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over allegations of genocide in Sudan's Darfur region during an insurgency that began in 2003.

The latest crisis has escalated since the weekend, when thousands of demonstrators began camping out outside the Defence Ministry compound in central Khartoum, where Mr 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 Mr Bashir's nearly three decades in power and a transition to democracy.

The demonstrators at the Defence Ministry had said that they wanted to submit a petition for the armed forces to take their side in their attempt to remove Mr Bashir and his Islamist-backed administration.