'Butcher of Darfur' Omar al-Bashir forced from power in Sudan

Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir at the Khartoum International Airport on 25 October 2018

Mr Ibn Auf announced a state of emergency, a nationwide ceasefire and the suspension of the constitution.

The whereabouts of the autocratic leader, who is a pariah in many countries and is also wanted by the worldwide war crimes tribunal for atrocities in Darfur, were not immediately known.

The defense minister announced military rule for two years, imposing an emergency clampdown that risks enflaming protesters who have demanded civilian democratic change.

The SPA said the military had announced a "coup" that would merely reproduce the same "faces and institutions that our great people revolted against". It did not indicate when the release would take place.

The Sudanese Professionals Association has been the driving force behind the protests.

Protests began in December over the price of bread after the government ended subsidies.

The Turkish leader has in the past hosted al-Bashir and has defended him over accusations of war crimes, saying "a Muslim can not commit genocide".

For the first time on Monday, leaders of the protests called for the military's leaders to abandon the president. Protests reached a climax on 11 April, with the army reportedly staging a coup.

They issued a statement vowing to remain in the streets until the 'regime steps down completely and power is handed to a civilian transitional government'. In April 1985, the military forced long-time autocrat Jaafar Nimeiri to step down after days of protests. "That is why the military has been able to monopolize the space so far".

The protests gained momentum last week after Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 20 years, resigned in response to weeks of similar protests.

Sudanese opposition leaders, for their part, have described the army's terms as "unacceptable".

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The military is at the centre of this new power shift, and it is yet to be seen which direction Sudan will take in the aftermath of a coup.

For more than 15 years, global lawyers, backed by a mandate from the world's largest powers, have failed to hold Bashir to account for a legacy of mass atrocities in Darfur.

Another civil conflict has been taking place in the western region of Darfur.

Following the announcement, there were reports of protesters attacking the agency's offices in the eastern cities of Port Sudan and Kassala.

Wearing military uniform and talking calmly to the camera for nearly 10 minutes, Auf offered to reassure the Sudanese people, saying the judicial system will remain the same.

Al-Bashir was at the presidential residence under "heavy guard", Reuters reported.

This political insider says that Sudanese Army's Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Kamal Abdel-Marouf is their top choice to head the transitional council. The ICC indicted him in 2009 and 2010 on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Bashir was backed by the National Islamic Front of his then mentor, the late Hassan al-Turabi.

Despite the ICC indictments, Bashir had regularly visited regional countries and also Russian Federation. Thousands of people are already celebrating on the streets, calling it a coup. "I listened to stories of women raped, men beaten, tortured, and murdered, villages burned, and saw people barely hanging on to life".

Bashir courted Turkey and Russian Federation, at the same time as Khartoum stepped up security cooperation with Washington, hoping to speed up the country's emergence from decades of US sanctions that were lifted in 2017.

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