Sudan’s military said on Thursday that they have seized power to keep the country from descending into civil war, but Sudanese opposition groups denounced it as a military coup following weeks of deadly anti-government protests.
The army deposed veteran President Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled for 30 years, and suspended the constitution after imposing a nighttime curfew in some areas.
The initiative of the Transitional Military Council is a coup. It is a military coup, said Mohamed Al-Amin, a leader of the Sudanese Congress Party, one of the groups that spearheaded the demonstrations.
We will not accept this and we say to them ‘Go back to your barracks! We will continue our sit-in and protests.’ The Sudanese people are still in the street demanding freedom and justice, Al-Amin told Reuters.
We consider ourselves to be still in a state of revolution and we refuse any coup d’etat under any pretext.
Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party described the move as a ‘historic moment’ for Sudan.
The party of President Bashir remains engaged in ongoing mediation efforts between the military council and other political groups, it said in a statement to journalists.
We hope that the current process will lead to our country being saved from division and civil war. This is what we have been concerned about since the beginning of the revolution.
There was no immediate public comment from Bashir, who took power in a bloodless military coup in 1989. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes over killings and atrocities in Sudan’s western Darfur region during an insurgency that began in 2003 and which U.N. officials say claimed more than 300 000 lives.
The military deposed Bashir, but Sudan’s intelligence chief and effective number two, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, will stay on as first vice president to the new military leader Hassan Sheikh Saybani. The party named the deputies of Dagalo as their representatives in negotiations with the army over a three-year transition period.
One of Bashir’s presidential guards, who declined to give his name, said:
I came back home and found the army in and I was very happy. We hope this will be more efficient than it was with the president. The situation deteriorated during Bashir’s rule because he didn’t allow anyone to work or do anything. Our hope is for things to get better.