(VOA)Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been ousted by the military after months of demonstrations against his autocratic 30-year rule.
In a nationally televised statement Thursday, Sudan’s defense minister, Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf, said al-Bashir has been arrested and is in a safe place.
He said the military has proclaimed a state of emergency and established a council to run the government for a two-year period. He also said all state and local governments have been dissolved.
Earlier, a Sudanese military source told VOA that al-Bashir, 75, had been put under house arrest. The source said military and political leaders are holding talks to form a transitional government.
Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of Khartoum on Thursday to celebrate the president’s ouster, dancing and chanting anti-Bashir slogans.
Sudan’s powerful National Security and Intelligence Service said it would release all political detainees throughout the country, according to a report on state media. Witnesses, however, say protesters attacked intelligence buildings in two eastern cities, Port Sudan and Kasala, because releases failed to materialize.
The protests began on December 19, with demonstrators accusing al-Bashir’s government of economic mismanagement that has sparked skyrocketing food prices, and fuel and foreign currency shortages.
Al-Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist coup in 1989, imposed a nationwide state of emergency February 22 in an attempt to suppress the protests after an initial crackdown failed. The government said weeks ago that 31 people had been killed, but the group Physicians for Human Rights estimates the death toll is at least 60.
Pressure on al-Bashir mounted this week as tens of thousands of protesters held a five-day sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum. On Tuesday, soldiers protected the crowd from riot police, a signal that the army did not support al-Bashir.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with atrocities in the western region of Darfur.