Khartoum airport closed, regime officials being arrested
Sudan’s strongman president, Omar Al-Bashir has resigned and a transitional council formed by the army, Arab news networks are reporting.
Bashir’s resignation remains unclear but reports say the new transitional council is to be led by Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, First Vice President and Defense Minister of Sudan.
Protesters had began jubilating, early Thursday, after state media reported that the army was set to make an “important announcement.” But the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has spearheaded the protests, said they will only accept the handover of power to a civilian transitional government and not one set up by the military. The group said it would reject any changes that do not meet the demands of the public.
“It has fallen, we won,” said protesters who gathered in front of the military headquarters as military vehicles were deployed on key roads and bridges in Khartoum, a Reuters report said.
Sudanese media have reported the closure of Khartoum airport and arrest of former and current officials including Bashir’s former Vice President, Ali Osman Taha and acting head of the National Congress Party Ahmed Haroun including some of Bashir’s personal guards.
“The Sudanese army will issue an important statement soon. Wait for it,”
a state television anchor had said, without giving further details early Thursday. The announcement was later made following months of protests against the longtime leader. Thousands of Khartoum residents flooded the area around army headquarters where protesters have held an unprecedented sit-in now since Saturday.
Crowds of demonstrators have spent five nights defiantly camped outside the sprawling army headquarters complex, which also houses Bashir’s official residence and the defense ministry. There has been an often festive mood at the sit-in with protesters singing dancing to the tunes of revolutionary songs. Several military vehicles carrying troops entered the compound in the early hours of Thursday, witnesses said.
Witnesses also said many army vehicles carrying troops were deploying in the center of Khartoum early Thursday.
“We call on our people from across the Khartoum capital and the region around to immediately go to the sit-in area and not leave from there until our next statement is issued,” the SPA which has continued to spearhead the nationwide demonstrations said in a release while urging residents of the capital to mass outside army headquarters.
Al-Arabiya network in the United Arab Emirates reports that “Al-Bashir resigned his position with immediate effect.” It also reported that Bashir had wanted to flee the country Wednesday night but was prevented by the army.
Al-Bashir has been highly unpopular amongst western powers, and was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2008 for alleged crimes stemming from the genocide in Darfur.
While he remained an unwelcomed political figure in the West, African leaders, however, largely stood behind him, dismissing the charges against him as a witch-hunt and refusing to hand him over for prosecution at The Hague.
He seized power in 1989 as a military general, and has served the longest since the country gained independence in 1956.
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