Sudan’s defense minister said on Thursday that President Omar al-Bashir had been detained “in a safe place” and that a military council would run the country for a two-year transitional period, confirming a long anticipated coup by the armed forces.
In a statement broadcast on state TV Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf said there would be elections at the end of the transitional period.
Seated on a gold-upholstered armchair, Auf announced a three-month state of emergency, a nationwide ceasefire and the suspension of the constitution. He also said Sudan’s air space would be closed for 24 hours and border crossings shut until further notice.
Sudanese sources told Reuters that Bashir was at the presidential residence under “heavy guard”. A son of Sadiq al-Mahdi, the head of the country’s main opposition Umma Party, told al-Hadath TV that Bashir was being held with “a number of leaders of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group”.
The defence minister made an appeal to the citizens, asking them to tolerate security measures that will be put in place. He also pledged that human rights will be observed throughout the transition period.
What next for protesters?
Thousands of people flocked to an anti-government protest outside the defence ministry on Thursday, while huge crowds took to the streets in central Khartoum, dancing and shouting anti-Bashir slogans. Protesters chanted: “It has fallen, we won.”
Demonstrators called for a civilian government and said they would not accept an administration led by military and security figures, or by Bashir’s aides.
Omar Saleh Sennar, a senior member of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, one of the main protest groups, said it expected to negotiate with the military over a transfer of power.
“We will only accept a transitional civilian government,” Sennar told Reuters.
Names of Bashir’s possible successors that have been circulating include the defence Minister, an ex-military intelligence chief, also an Islamist, and former army chief of staff Emad al-Din Adawi.
Adawi is said to be favoured by regional neighbours at odds with Bashir over his Islamist leanings.