Sudan’s military removes Omar Al-Bashir from power and declares state of emergency

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A Sudanese girl flashes the victory sign and holds the national flag during a rally near the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 11, 2019. (AFP)
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Sudanese people chant slogans in the capital Khartoum on April 11, 2019. (AFP)
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Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, the First Vice President and Defense Minister of Sudan, has announced the military has overthrown and arrested President Omar Al-Bashir. (AFP)
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Sudanese men flash the 'V' for victory sign on April 11, 2019 as they watch an anti-government rally in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)
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Sudanese children wave their national flag on April 11, 2019 as they stand inside an open vehicle in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)
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A Sudanese anti-regime protester kisses a soldier on the head during protests on April 11, 2019 in the area around the army headquarters in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. (AFP)
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Above, a jubilant crowd clamber aboard Sudanese armored vehicle. (AN photo)
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Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1989. (AFP)
Updated 12 April 2019
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Sudan’s military removes Omar Al-Bashir from power and declares state of emergency

  • Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf says Al-Bashir arrested and all political prisoners set free
  • Constitution suspended and transitional military council to be in place for two years

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s military has removed Omar Al-Bashir from power after 30 years and declared a state of emergency.

The move brings to an end the divisive and autocratic reign of one of Africa and the Arab world’s longest serving leaders.

It follows months of escalating protests against his rule that have been met with a brutal response by the security forces. Dozens of people have been killed.

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READ MORE: 

OPINION: Is this a new Sudan or a new coup?

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Omar Al-Bashir: A tumultuous 30-year rule comes to an end

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But while many celebrated the coup, protests leaders expressed their anger at the military intervention and called for the demonstrations to continue.

In a televised address, Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, the first vice president and defense minister of Sudan, announced the suspension of the Sudanese constitution and creation of a transitional military council, which will lead the country for two years. Elections would be held after the transition period, Auf added.

“We, the transitional government, bear the responsibility to protect our citizens,” he said “We hope our population will bear the same responsibility.”

Auf, who was sworn in as the head of the council late on Thursday, blamed the 75-year-old leader for his own downfall.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS

*Defense minister announces toppling of the regime and a state of emergncy
*Omar Al-Bashir, who ruled for 30 years, detained at a ‘secure place’

*Transitional military council to run the country for two years, followed by elections
*Political prisoners released and ceasefire declared across country
*Tens of thousands celebrate but protest leaders unhappy, vow to continue demonstrations

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“The regime continued to make false promises in response to the demands of the people,” Auf said.

Wearing military uniform and talking calmly to the camera for almost 10 minutes, Auf offered to reassure the Sudanese people, saying the judicial system will remain the same. He called on all armed groups to join the government and protect the people.

A massive crowd of jubilant Sudanese people thronged squares and streets of central Khartoum ahead of the announcement. 

But the protestors’ Alliance for Freedom and Change said the regime had "conducted a military coup by bringing back the same faces and the same institutions which our people rose against.”

It urged people “to continue their sit-in in front of army headquarters and across all regions and in the streets.”

Alaa Salah, who became an icon of the protest movement after a video of her leading demonstrators' chants outside army headquarters went viral, said: “The people do not want a transitional military council.”

“Change will not happen with Bashir's entire regime hoodwinking Sudanese civilians through a military coup,” she tweeted. “We want a civilian council to head the transition.”

The son of the head of Sudan’s main opposition party said Al-Bashir was under house arrest along with a “number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders,” Al-Hadath TV reported.

Al-Bashir was at the presidential residence under “heavy guard,” Reuters reported, while it was announced the transitional council would be headed by Auf. 

Sudan's army warned it would enforce a night-time curfew, state media reported, as protesters vowed to continue demonstrating against a military council set up after president Omar Al-Bashir was toppled.
The curfew runs "from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am, and all must adhere to it for their own safety," the army said in a statement carried by the official SUNA news agency, adding that it was "doing its duty to keep them and their properties secure".

International reaction to the situation was cautious on Thursday.

Sudanese protesters march towards the military headquarters during an anti-regime rally in the capital Khartoum on April 11, 2019. (AFP)

The US said it supported a peaceful and democratic Sudan and believes the Sudanese people should be allowed a peaceful transition sooner than two years from now.
"The Sudanese people should determine who leads them in their future," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said. "The Sudanese people have been clear that they have been demanding a civilian-led transition."

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said two years of potential military rule in Sudan “is not the answer" for “real change” in the country.

Hunt tweeted that Sudan needs "a swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership" and an end to violence.

 

The US and five European countries — France, UK, Germany, Belgium and Poland — calling for a UN Security Council meeting on Sudan, which will be a closed-door session to be held on Friday. The European Union has called for peaceful and civilian transition.

Al-Bashir has an International Criminal Court arrest warrant against him for the death of an estimated 300,000 people in the Darfur region.

The country’s national intelligence and security service also announced the release of all political prisoners numbering about 5,000, the country’s state news agency reported.

One of those released was Mohammed Naji Elasam, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the main organizer of protests being held across Sudan since December, witnesses said. Elasam had been detained for more than three months.

Meanwhile, Sudanese protesters stormed a building of the powerful intelligence services in the eastern cities of Port Sudan and Kassala after the officers refused to release the detainees there, witnesses said.

“Protesters stormed the building and looted all the equipment that was there,” a witness from Kasala told AFP by telephone.

The military earlier deployed troops around the defence ministry and on major roads and bridges in the capital.

Al-Arabiya TV also reported that soldiers have raided the headquarters of Al-Bashir’s Islamic Movement in Khartoum.

Jubilant Sudanese women chant slogans in the Khartoum on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (AFP)

Airports in Khartoum and Port Sudan were closed, which prompted Saudi carriers Saudia and Flynas to announce on Twitter that they had suspended all flights to and from Sudan.

Protesters gathered in front of the military headquarters as military vehicles were deployed on key roads and bridges in Khartoum. They were reportedly shouting “It has fallen, we won,” Reuters said.

The protests, which erupted in December, have become the biggest challenge yet to Bashir’s three decades of iron-fisted rule.

Crowds of demonstrators have spent five nights defiantly camped outside the sprawling 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. State television and radio played patriotic music, reminding older Sudanese of how military takeovers unfolded during previous episodes of civil unrest.

(With Reuters and AFP)


Iranians brace for harder times as US oil sanctions close in

Updated 3 min 30 sec ago
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Iranians brace for harder times as US oil sanctions close in

  • When the 2015 nuclear deal was struck, hopes were high that it would end the country’s years of crippling economic isolation
  • Hopes were shattered when President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the accord last year and reimposed sanctions

TEHRAN: Iranians, already hard hit by punishing US economic sanctions, are bracing for more pain after Washington abolished waivers for some countries which had allowed them to buy oil from Iran.
“In the end the pressure (America) is putting out is on the people,” said a 28-year-old technical instructor in Iran.
“Some have crumbled, and those still standing will probably give up when things worsen,” he added, asking not to be named.
In 2015 when Iran struck a landmark nuclear deal with world powers, hopes were high that it would end the country’s years of crippling economic isolation.
Thousands even flooded the streets of the capital, Tehran, to celebrate and hail Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as he arrived back from tough negotiations in Vienna.
But those hopes were shattered when President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the accord last year and reimposed sanctions.
Pressure has piled up ever since, with Washington saying Monday it would sanction all countries that buy Iranian oil, in a move meant to squeeze Iran’s main source of revenue down to zero.
Iran’s economy has been battered. Inflation has shot up, the country’s currency has plummeted and imports are now vastly more expensive.
“The country’s revenues will naturally reduce and maybe the rial will drop further,” the instructor told AFP.
Analysts have put Iran’s oil exports in March at around 1.9 million barrels a day, while the Central Bank had forecast revenue from oil sales in 2019 at around $10.57 billion.
Many of the country’s woes pre-date Trump and the sanctions, however, as it has struggled with a troubled banking system, a stifled private sector and the lack of foreign investment.

Yet life continues at Tehran’s Tajrish Bazaar, located north of the city.
On Tuesday people thronged the tight alleyways, drawn in by the tantalising smells of fresh vegetables and fruit as stall-owners shouted out prices, haggled with customers and hurriedly packed their goods.
But other parts of the bazaar selling non-essential goods such as pots, perfume and clothing were noticeably less busy.
“Have sanctions affected me? Which rock have you been hiding under all these years?” asked one irritated stall-owner, keeping an eye out for potential customers among the window-shoppers.
A 55-year-old housewife agreed.
“We have a limited wage, you see. (When sanctions came back) we were forced to spend what was meant for food and meat on the rent that went up,” she said.
Most people questioned by AFP asked to remain anonymous, and complained bitterly about inflation, saying they were especially pressured by growing housing and food prices.
According to the Statistical Center of Iran, overall inflation for the Iranian month of Farvardin (March 21-April 20) rose to 51.4 percent compared to the same month last year.
Food and services prices shot up by by 85 and 37 percent respectively over the same month.
This has caused “the class gap to really widen. There is only rich and poor now, nothing is left in between,” said the housewife.
“It will get worse. As ordinary citizens, we already expect prices to rise further” if oil exports reach zero, she added.
Iranians have also been forced to cut back on traveling, a tradition during the Nowruz, the Iranian new year which started on March 21, as prices grew out of many people’s reach.
“The situation is shocking,” the head of Tehran’s travel agencies association, Amir Pooyan Rafishad recently told ISNA news agency.
“Demand for trips, whether abroad or in Iran has dropped significantly.”

For Zarif, the US move to sanction Iran’s oil sales is another instance of what the Islamic Republic has repeatedly called “economic terrorism.”
“Escalating #EconomicTERRORISM against Iranians exposes panic & desperation of US regime,” he wrote Tuesday on Twitter.
The foreign ministry denounced the sanctions as “illegal” and said Iran was in “constant talks with its international partners including the Europeans.”
Russia on Tuesday called the US tightening of sanctions an “aggressive and reckless” policy.
Other major sources of income for the Iranian economy are minerals, about $8 billion annually, and agricultural exports, at about $5 billion — but it also imports large quantities of both, offsetting much of that income.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, however, has said he believes the US will not be able to block Iran from selling its oil.
“America’s dream for bringing Iran’s oil exports to zero will not be realized,” he told lawmakers on Tuesday, ISNA reported.
“America and its allies have made a big mistake by politicizing oil and using it as a weapon,” he added. “Given the market’s circumstances, (it) will backfire on many.”