Sudan’s military removes al-Bashir: All the latest updates

Sit-in continues outside army headquarters in Khartoum despite military’s claim it has no ambitions to hold power. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been removed by the military after months of anti-government protests against his three-decade rule. General Ahmed Ibn Auf was sworn in on Thursday evening as chief of a new military council that will rule the country for two years, hours after declaring that Sudan’s long-time ruler had been overthrown and arrested. The coup and installation of the council was rejected by the protesters, who said the moves did not meet their long-standing demands for a civilian-led government. Since December, Sudan has witnessed persistent protests sparked by rising food prices that quickly escalated into wider calls for al-Bashir’s departure. The latest crisis escalated on April 6 when thousands of demonstrators began a sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum. Dozens of people have been killed in protest-related violence since the start of the demonstrations. Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, says the military council’s declaration does not seem to be “selling with the thousands of people who are out on the streets” protesting. “This is not what they have been asking for,” Morgan says, adding that protesters want a hand over of power to an “interim, independent civilian government”. “They [the protesters] do not want the military to be taking charge of affairs until elections are held,” she adds. Morgan says it was “not only civilians” protesting the military takeover, however, citing an announcement by paramilitary group the Rapid Support Force, who said the armed forces’ move “falls short of what the people have been demanding for the past four months and they will not be part of the military council”. “So at the moment it looks like not a lot of people are on board with this military council idea,” Morgan says. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the principal protest group, snubs the military’s claim that it has no ambitions to hold the reins of power for long after ousting al-Bashir. The SPA denounces the statement as a “farce” and alleges the armed forces assurances were a “deception”, calling instead for an immediate handover of power to a civilian transitional government The group also vows to “resist” by peaceful means all the extraordinary measures the military has imposed since Thursday’s overthrow of al-Bashir. The commander of Sudan’s Rapid Support Force (RSF), a paramilitary group, says it will not “accept any solutions rejected by the Sudanese people” abd calls for the country’s military to start “opening the door for dialogue” with protesters. RSF commander Mohammed Hamadati  says in a statement talks are needed to prevent Sudan from “slipping into chaos.” The RSF is made up of Arab militias that fought on the side of government forces against rebels in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in the initial years of the conflict. Al-Bashir is  sought by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for alleged human rights violations during the bloody conflict in the Darfur region,  which began in 2003. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet says in a statement she is “closely monitoring developments” in Sudan and calls on authorities in the country to “refrain from using force against peaceful protestors”. Bachelet also urges authorities to release all those detained for “their exercise of the freedom of peaceful assembly and expression” while protesting. “The crisis in Sudan has its roots in human rights grievances – economic, social, civil and political rights. The solution must also be grounded in human rights,” Bachelet says. The UN human rights chief also stresses the need for “independent, prompt and effective investigations into the excessive use of force against protestors since December last year”. Scores of people have been killed in clashes with security forces since the demonstrations began, activists say. Germany’s foreign ministry is calling for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Sudan following President Omar al-Bashir’s ouster. “We are calling on all sides to exercise restraint, as we need a peaceful solution to the crisis, which fulfils the expectation of the Sudanese people for a political change,” Christofer Burger, deputy spokesman for the foreign ministry, says. “It is important that the protests can proceed peacefully, and any use of violence against demonstrators is not acceptable,” Burger says at a press conference in Berlin. Omar Zein al-Abideen, head of Sudan’s provisional military political council, says Sudan will not extradite deposed President Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for trial.  He says the former president will instead be tried and judged in Sudan. Al-  Bashir, who is sought by the ICC for human rights violations in Sudan’s Darfur region, is currently being held in an undisclosed prison, according to al-Abideen.
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