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Africa

Sudan army ends Bashir's 30-year reign, protest movement rejects 'regime coup'

media Des manifestants opposés au président Omar el-Béchir ont rejoint des militaires sur leurs véhicules blindés, jeudi 11 avril 2019 à Khartoum. AFP

Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir has been ousted by the army following months of anti-government demonstrations against his three decades of rule. Organisers of the protest movement denounced the coup, saying it was orchestrated by the same institutions it rose up against. 

"I announce as minister of defence the toppling of the regime and detaining its chief in a secure place," said Awad Ibn Ouf in a televised address to the nation.

A transitional military council is now to replace the president for two years, said Ibn Ouf, adding that the country's borders and airspace would be shut until further notice.

'Regime coup'

The announcement came after months of street protests in Sudan calling for Bashir to go. But organisers of the demonstrations rejected his removal by the army as a "coup conducted by the regime" and vowed to keep up their campaign.

"The regime has conducted a military coup by bringing back the same faces and the same institutions which our people rose against," the Alliance for Freedom and Change said in a statement.

"We all reject what has been mentioned in the coup statement issued by the regime," said the alliance, an umbrella group of grass-roots organisers and opposition parties and rebel groups.

"We call on our people to continue their sit-in in front of army headquarters and across all regions and in the streets."

Bashir assumed power in a 1989 coup and was one of Africa's longest serving presidents. 

O presidente sudanês Omar al-Bashir discursa na reunião do Comitê de Diálogo Nacional no Palácio Presidencial em Cartum, Sudão, 5 de abril de 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

During the morning, crowds rallied in the squares across the centre of Khartoum as the army promised an important announcement.

Chanting "the regime has fallen," thousands poured into the open ground outside army headquarters where protesters have braved tear gas to maintain a sit-in for six days.

The protests started in December over the government's tripling of the price of bread and escalated into the biggest challenge to Bashir's rule.

The security agency announced it was freeing all political prisoners.

Troops raided the offices of the Islamic Movement, the ideological wing of Bashir's ruling National Congress Party, witnesses told AFP. And martial music was played on state television as soldiers ordered the TV to halt its normal programming.

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