NAIROBI, Kenya—After three decades in power, Sudan’s President Hassan Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by a military coup amid widespread protests that started in 2018.
Sudanese state television quoted Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf as saying a transitional military council would oversee a two-year transitional period until elections are held.
As pressure mounted on Bashir to leave power in recent months, almost 50 people were killed in a series of protests that erupted in December 2018, according to local media reports.
Hassan Hajji Ali, a professor of political science at the University of Khartoum, said the mood in the northern African country remained tense with mixed reactions.
“Some of the protesters have rejected the military move and are calling for a civilian government to be put in place,” he said in a telephone interview from the Sudanese capital. “There are those who have said they will continue with the sit-in,” he said, adding that the military council has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew and suspended the constitution.
Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo termed the day’s events as “historic for Sudan.”
“Today’s events should also serve as a wake-up call to leaders around the world who think they can get away with denying people their basic rights,” he said in a statement. “But while many Sudanese people will be delighted by the end of Bashir’s deeply repressive 30-year rule, we are alarmed by the raft of emergency measures announced today,” Naidoo added.
Reacting to the news, Kenneth Roth, executive director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said it “is not enough that President Bashir has been ousted.”
“His countless victims, and the need to establish the rule of law and signal an end to mass atrocities, demand that he be sent to the International Criminal Court to face the charges against him,” he added.
Bashir, who had ruled Sudan since 1989 after staging a military coup, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges related to atrocities in the Darfur region.
Human-rights groups have urged Sudanese authorities to turn Bashir and three others officials over to the Hague-based court to face justice.
Demonstrations in the Horn of African country began in December 2018 and intensified on April 6, as the Sudanese people continued to demand political change.
Thousands of protesters began a sit-in at the military’s headquarters in Khartoum on April 6; and police and security forces used force to try to disperse the demonstrators who were calling for Bashir to step down.
The UK, the United States, and Norway issued a joint statement on Aril 9 reacting to the current unrest in Sudan.
“The time has come for the Sudanese authorities to respond to these popular demands in a serious and credible way,” read the statement.
During the protests, Amnesty International said all social-media platforms were jammed and phone signals around the military headquarters were noticeably weakened. Authorities in Khartoum had also cut the supply of water to the area.
The latest protests were called to mark the 34th anniversary of the toppling of former President Jaafar Muhammad Nimeiry’s government by the Sudan Armed Forces in response to a popular uprising in Sudan, as well as to protest against the current government.
Thousands of protesters responded to the call and gathered in front of Sudan’s army headquarters, calling for the removal of Bashir’s government.
The country’s economic crisis has been exacerbated by the secession in 2011 of oil-rich South Sudan, denying Khartoum a large portion of oil revenue.