Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has urged lawmakers to postpone controversial constitutional amendments, dissolved the central government, and declared a one-year state of emergency amid massive protests against poor living conditions.
In a televised speech on Friday, al-Bashir called on Sudan’s parliament to postpone controversial constitutional amendments that would allow him to run for another term in a presidential election in 2020.
Bashir also appointed a new caretaker administration but left the country’s current defense, foreign and justice ministers in place. He also appointed new state governors who were all from the military, according to a presidency statement.
Facing the biggest popular protests since he came to power 30 years ago, Bashir also declared a state of emergency for one year and said he would dissolve the central government and state governments across the country.
Earlier, Salah Abdullah, the director of Sudanese Security and Intelligence, said the Sudanese president was expected to announce that he will not seek a re-election in the 2020 votes, standing down in the wake of nationwide popular protests.
Acknowledging the popular protests that have rocked his administration in recent months, the 75-year-old said the “demands of our people for better living conditions are lawful”.
“I will not stop calling for all parties to sit at the dialogue table,” he added.
Al-Bashir’s announcement on Friday followed months of nearly daily protests, with thousands of people taking to the streets across the country since December 19 to call for him to stand down after nearly three decades in office.
While the protests were initially set off by the rising cost of bread and fuel in the north of Sudan, they quickly grew into a demand for more political freedoms and an end to al-Bashir’s rule.
The demonstrations continued on Friday in the hours before al-Bashir’s speech.
Security forces fired teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters who marched and chanted anti-government slogans following Friday prayers at a major mosque near the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, eyewitnesses said.
Activists say nearly 60 people have been killed since the protests began, while authorities put the death toll at 32, including three security personnel.
Authorities, meanwhile, have arrested opposition party members, activists and journalists.
Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of masterminding genocide in the Darfur region, which he denies. He has been lobbying for Sudan to be removed from a list of countries Washington deems state sponsors of terrorism.
The listing has blocked the investment and financial aid that Sudan was hoping for when the United States lifted sanctions in 2017, economists say.