Sudan president declares state of emergency

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, faced with the massive popular mobilization against him, announced on Friday the dissolution of the government and declared the country in a state of emergency.

In a televised speech, Bashir, 75, said he would dissolve both the federal government and the state governments and urged parliament to postpone the adoption of constitutional changes that would allow him to reapply for the presidency 2020, after nearly 30 years in power.

“I declare a state of emergency all over the country for a year,” the Sudanese president said. “I announce the dissolution of the government at the federal and state level,” he added.

“Our country is going through a difficult and complicated situation, the most difficult of its history,” he said. “Economic problems need to be tackled by competent people and for this purpose I will form a government with people with the necessary skills,” Bashir explained.

At the same time, he called on the opposition “to start a dialogue on the current problems of our country”.

A few hours later, Bashir announced that five ministers of the outgoing government, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Justice, will maintain their positions. He also appointed 16 army officers and two security officials as heads of the 18 states of the country.

After Bashir’s announcement, angry protesters took to the streets of Omdurman calling for “freedom” and set fire to tires, while others closed the main street, according to Reuters.

The National Unity Forces, one of the main organizations of the Sudanese opposition, announced that the response to Bashir would be more demonstrations.

The demonstrations, which began on 19 December with the rise in commodity prices and the lack of cash, quickly evolved into protests against Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989. According to experts, it is the most powerful movement against him, in three decades.

The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISS) is leading the crackdown on protesters and has arrested hundreds of protesters, opposition leaders, activists and journalists since December, according to non-governmental organizations.

According to the official report, 31 people have been killed since 19 December. Human Rights Watch (HRW) talks about 51 deaths, including children and medical staff.