Sudan Army topples veteran leader Bashir

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Khartoum: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the Army on Thursday, brought down by months of anti-government protests against his three decades of iron-fisted rule. “I announce as minister of defence the toppling of the regime and detaining its chief in a secure place,” Defence Minister Awad Ibnouf said in a sombre televised address to the nation.A transitional military council would replace Bashir for two years, he said, adding that the country’s borders and airspace would be shut until further notice.The veteran leader, who swept to power in a 1989 coup, was one of Africa’s longest serving presidents. He is wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Since early morning huge crowds of jubilant Sudanese had begun thronging squares across the centre of Khartoum on Thursday as the army promised an “important announcement”.Chanting “the regime has fallen,” thousands poured into the open ground outside army headquarters where defiant protesters have braved tear gas to keep up an unprecedented sit-in now in its sixth day.The protests, which erupted in December over the government’s tripling of the price of bread, were the biggest challenge yet to Bashir’s long rule. The security agency also announced it was freeing all political prisoners.Army vehicles carrying troops were seen deploying across the centre of Khartoum from early on Thursday. 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.Outside Army headquarters, dozens of joyful protesters climbed on top of landcruisers and armoured vehicles that had been posted to protect them from intervention by other branches of the security forces. Braving the searing 42 degree Celsius (108 degree Fahrenheit) heat, protesters hugged and kissed soldiers in the crowd.

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