4/20/2019
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Sudan: Army says it will make 'important' announcement


Thursday April 11, 2019

The fate of Omar al-Bashir uncertain after months of anti-government protests as military promises announcement soon.


The protests, which erupted in December, have become the biggest challenge yet to Bashir's three decades of rule [AFP]

The Sudanese army was Thursday planning to make "an important announcement", state media said, after weeks of protests against longtime leader President Omar al-Bashir.

"The Sudanese army will issue an important statement soon. Wait for it," a television anchor said, without giving further details.

The protests, which erupted in December, have become the biggest challenge yet to Bashir's three decades of rule.

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Thursday marked the sixth day of a defiant sit-in outside the military's headquarters, which also houses Bashir's official residence and the defence ministry.

Crowds of demonstrators have spent five nights thronging the sprawling complex, singing and dancing to  revolutionary songs.

Al Jazeera's Hiba Morgan reporting from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum said there was a heavy security presence on the city's main roads.

"There are a lot of military trucks around the capital and around the main streets of the city. Most roads have been blocked especially those leading to the army HQ. There are a few roads opened for the protesters who have been participating in the sit-in," Morgan said.

"People are extremely happy even before the army made any announcement.  People are celebrating and pouring in to the sit-in area. Protesters are saying they are very confident that Bashir will resign," Morgan added.

The group spearheading the nationwide demonstrations urged residents of the capital to mass outside army headquarters.

"We call on our people from across the Khartoum capital and the region around to immediately go to the sit-in area and not leave from there until our next statement is issued," the Sudanese Professionals Association said.

Death toll


The demonstrators have braved repeated volleys of tear gas from members of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) since they began camping outside the complex on April 6, protest organisers say.

But for the first time on Tuesday night they did not face any "threat" from security agents, said a protester who requested anonymity for security reasons.

That came after 11 people, including six members of the security forces, were killed on Tuesday during demonstrations in the capital, government spokesman Hassan Ismail told the official SUNA news agency.

Officials say 49 people have died in protest-related violence since demonstrations first erupted in December.

"I hope our revolution will achieve its goal," said Alaa Salah, dubbed the protest movement's "Nubian queen", referring to an ancient name for Sudan, after a video clip went viral of her conducting chants with demonstrators outside the army headquarters.

Earlier this week, the US, Britain and Norway for the first time threw their weight behind the protesters.

"The time has come for the Sudanese authorities to respond to these popular demands in a serious" way, the countries' Khartoum embassies said in a statement.

"The Sudanese authorities must now respond and deliver a credible plan for this political transition."

Sudan, along with Iran, Syria and North Korea, is on Washington's blacklist of state sponsors of "terrorism".

Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide, came to power in a 1989 coup. He remains one of the longest serving presidents in Africa.

Bashir's ruling National Congress Party said plans to hold a rally backing the president on Thursday had been postponed.



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