President AL Bashir of Sudan has stepped down from the presidency but reports indicate he is under house arrest as thousands of protesters call for his departure from State House.
Sporadic deadly protests broke out across Sudan since the government tripled the price of bread on Dec. 19, with demonstrators accusing the government of mismanaging the nation’s economy and calling on the veteran leader to step down.
President El-Bashir encountered the demonstration with a nationwide state of emergency and dissolved the government in an effort to quell weeks of demonstrations that have rocked his iron-fisted rule.
El-Bashir has remained defiant in the face of demonstrations, dismissing protesters’ calls for him to step down after three decades in power.
Demonstrations first erupted in the farming town of Atbara, but the rallies swiftly mushroomed into a major challenge to El-Bashir’s rule.
The country’s feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has launched a sweeping crackdown to quell the protests, jailing hundreds of protesters, opposition leaders, activists and journalists.
El-Bashir, 75, swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989 that overthrew the elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.
It is not the first time El-Bashir has imposed a nationwide emergency. He did so in December 1999, when a political crisis erupted after he broke away from Islamist mentor Hassan al-Turabi.
He said he had asked to postpone meetings of a parliamentary panel that was set up to look into amending the country’s constitution to allow a third presidential term. He did not elaborate.
El-Bashir is considering running for a third term after he was chosen as a candidate by his ruling National Congress Party for the election due next year.
Soaring inflation along with acute foreign currency shortages have battered the economy, especially after the independence of South Sudan in 2011 took away the bulk of oil earnings.