President Erdoğan calls for Sudan to restore peace, democracy

Sudan President Bashir STEPS DOWN as tens of thousands march in protests against regime

Sudanese forces celebrate after officials said the military had forced longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir to step down after 30 years in power in Khartoum, Sudan.

He said Sudan's constitution was being suspended, border crossings were being shut until further notice and airspace was being closed for 24 hours. The military's statement was promised after almost four months of anti-government protests demanding the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir. Additional army units and armored vehicles have been deployed throughout the streets of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, with Khartoum, with police having vanished.

The country, one of Africa's biggest and most strategically important, has been paralysed by months of protests that erupted on 19 December in the eastern city of Atbara after a government decision to triple the price of bread, but quickly evolved into nationwide demonstrations against Bashir's rule.

The head of the junta that seized power in 1989, Bashir dissolved the military council in 1993 and ruled with an iron fist.

One of the world's most enduring dictators, he is a pariah in many nations and is wanted by an worldwide court for war crimes committed in Darfur.

As pressure mounted on al-Bashir to leave power, almost 50 people were killed in a series of protests that erupted in December, according to media reports.

"Ocampo suggested if Bashir's stash of money were disclosed (he put the figure at possibly $9 billion), it would change Sudanese public opinion from him being a "crusader" to that of a thief", he said, referring to International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Four years later, Bashir backed by Islamist military, overthrew Sadiq al-Mahdi. But the demonstrations grew much stronger last Saturday when thousands of protesters moved into the area outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, staging a round-the-clock mass sit-in and winning protection from elements in the military.

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In an apparent concession to a demand of the protesters, the National Security and Intelligence Service said in a statement that all political detainees would be released.

Thousands of protesters responded to the call and gathered in front of Sudan's army headquarters calling for the removal of Bashir's government.

In the wake of the coup, worldwide human rights groups urged Sudanese military authorities to hand over the 75-year-old al-Bashir to the global Criminal Court, where he faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for his deadly campaign against insurgents in the country's Darfur region.

The demonstrators have braved repeated volleys of tear gas from members of the NISS since they began camping outside the complex on Saturday, protest organizers say.

Al-Bashir's current whereabouts remain unknown.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called for an inclusive transition process in Sudan that will meet the "democratic aspirations" of the country's people, his spokesman said. It was his first such speech since he imposed a state of emergency across the country in February.

The military, however, has seemed more equivocal, stating its support the country's "leadership" and pledging to protect its "achievements" - without mentioning al-Bashir by name.

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