By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been ousted and arrested following nearly four months of protests against his 30-year rule, the defense minister says.
Speaking on state television on April 11, Awad Ibn Ouf said that Bashir had been detained “in a safe place” and that a military council will oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections.
The announcement came as tens of thousands of people marched through the capital, Khartoum, some shouting that the “regime has fallen.”
Reports said that troops had deployed at key sites in the city, and raided Bashir’s Islamic movement, which is linked to the ruling party.
Protests against Bashir, who took power in a coup in 1989, have been under way since December.
They were originally sparked by price hikes and cash shortages, but they quickly turned into rallies against Bashir’s rule.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov called for calm in Sudan and expressed hope that “whatever the outcome, Russian-Sudanese relations” will be a priority for Khartoum.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in January that “representatives of Russian private security companies, who have nothing to do with Russian state bodies, are operating” in the African country.
The “task” of the private security firms “is limited to training staff for the military and law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Sudan,” said ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
She made the comments after a story in the British press alleged that Russian mercenaries were helping Sudanese authorities crack down on the country’s mass street demonstrations.