Sudan’s military removes Omar Al-Bashir from power and declares state of emergency

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A Sudanese girl flashes the victory sign and holds the national flag during a rally near the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 11, 2019. (AFP)
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Sudanese people chant slogans in the capital Khartoum on April 11, 2019. (AFP)
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Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, the First Vice President and Defense Minister of Sudan, has announced the military has overthrown and arrested President Omar Al-Bashir. (AFP)
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Sudanese men flash the 'V' for victory sign on April 11, 2019 as they watch an anti-government rally in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)
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Sudanese children wave their national flag on April 11, 2019 as they stand inside an open vehicle in the capital Khartoum. (AFP)
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A Sudanese anti-regime protester kisses a soldier on the head during protests on April 11, 2019 in the area around the army headquarters in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. (AFP)
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Above, a jubilant crowd clamber aboard Sudanese armored vehicle. (AN photo)
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Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir came to power in a military coup in 1989. (AFP)
Updated 12 April 2019

Sudan’s military removes Omar Al-Bashir from power and declares state of emergency

  • Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf says Al-Bashir arrested and all political prisoners set free
  • Constitution suspended and transitional military council to be in place for two years

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s military has removed Omar Al-Bashir from power after 30 years and declared a state of emergency.

The move brings to an end the divisive and autocratic reign of one of Africa and the Arab world’s longest serving leaders.

It follows months of escalating protests against his rule that have been met with a brutal response by the security forces. Dozens of people have been killed.

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READ MORE: 

OPINION: Is this a new Sudan or a new coup?

TIMELINE: Mounting protests in Sudan

Omar Al-Bashir: A tumultuous 30-year rule comes to an end

Viral ‘Nubian queen’ rally leader says women key to Sudan protests

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But while many celebrated the coup, protests leaders expressed their anger at the military intervention and called for the demonstrations to continue.

In a televised address, Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, the first vice president and defense minister of Sudan, announced the suspension of the Sudanese constitution and creation of a transitional military council, which will lead the country for two years. Elections would be held after the transition period, Auf added.

“We, the transitional government, bear the responsibility to protect our citizens,” he said “We hope our population will bear the same responsibility.”

Auf, who was sworn in as the head of the council late on Thursday, blamed the 75-year-old leader for his own downfall.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS

*Defense minister announces toppling of the regime and a state of emergncy
*Omar Al-Bashir, who ruled for 30 years, detained at a ‘secure place’

*Transitional military council to run the country for two years, followed by elections
*Political prisoners released and ceasefire declared across country
*Tens of thousands celebrate but protest leaders unhappy, vow to continue demonstrations

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“The regime continued to make false promises in response to the demands of the people,” Auf said.

Wearing military uniform and talking calmly to the camera for almost 10 minutes, Auf offered to reassure the Sudanese people, saying the judicial system will remain the same. He called on all armed groups to join the government and protect the people.

A massive crowd of jubilant Sudanese people thronged squares and streets of central Khartoum ahead of the announcement. 

But the protestors’ Alliance for Freedom and Change said the regime had "conducted a military coup by bringing back the same faces and the same institutions which our people rose against.”

It urged people “to continue their sit-in in front of army headquarters and across all regions and in the streets.”

Alaa Salah, who became an icon of the protest movement after a video of her leading demonstrators' chants outside army headquarters went viral, said: “The people do not want a transitional military council.”

“Change will not happen with Bashir's entire regime hoodwinking Sudanese civilians through a military coup,” she tweeted. “We want a civilian council to head the transition.”

The son of the head of Sudan’s main opposition party said Al-Bashir was under house arrest along with a “number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders,” Al-Hadath TV reported.

Al-Bashir was at the presidential residence under “heavy guard,” Reuters reported, while it was announced the transitional council would be headed by Auf. 

Sudan's army warned it would enforce a night-time curfew, state media reported, as protesters vowed to continue demonstrating against a military council set up after president Omar Al-Bashir was toppled.
The curfew runs "from 10:00 pm to 4:00 am, and all must adhere to it for their own safety," the army said in a statement carried by the official SUNA news agency, adding that it was "doing its duty to keep them and their properties secure".

International reaction to the situation was cautious on Thursday.




Sudanese protesters march towards the military headquarters during an anti-regime rally in the capital Khartoum on April 11, 2019. (AFP)

The US said it supported a peaceful and democratic Sudan and believes the Sudanese people should be allowed a peaceful transition sooner than two years from now.
"The Sudanese people should determine who leads them in their future," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said. "The Sudanese people have been clear that they have been demanding a civilian-led transition."

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said two years of potential military rule in Sudan “is not the answer" for “real change” in the country.

Hunt tweeted that Sudan needs "a swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership" and an end to violence.

 

The US and five European countries — France, UK, Germany, Belgium and Poland — calling for a UN Security Council meeting on Sudan, which will be a closed-door session to be held on Friday. The European Union has called for peaceful and civilian transition.

Al-Bashir has an International Criminal Court arrest warrant against him for the death of an estimated 300,000 people in the Darfur region.

The country’s national intelligence and security service also announced the release of all political prisoners numbering about 5,000, the country’s state news agency reported.

One of those released was Mohammed Naji Elasam, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the main organizer of protests being held across Sudan since December, witnesses said. Elasam had been detained for more than three months.

Meanwhile, Sudanese protesters stormed a building of the powerful intelligence services in the eastern cities of Port Sudan and Kassala after the officers refused to release the detainees there, witnesses said.

“Protesters stormed the building and looted all the equipment that was there,” a witness from Kasala told AFP by telephone.

The military earlier deployed troops around the defence ministry and on major roads and bridges in the capital.

Al-Arabiya TV also reported that soldiers have raided the headquarters of Al-Bashir’s Islamic Movement in Khartoum.




Jubilant Sudanese women chant slogans in the Khartoum on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (AFP)

Airports in Khartoum and Port Sudan were closed, which prompted Saudi carriers Saudia and Flynas to announce on Twitter that they had suspended all flights to and from Sudan.

Protesters gathered in front of the military headquarters as military vehicles were deployed on key roads and bridges in Khartoum. They were reportedly shouting “It has fallen, we won,” Reuters said.

The protests, which erupted in December, have become the biggest challenge yet to Bashir’s three decades of iron-fisted rule.

Crowds of demonstrators have spent five nights defiantly camped outside the sprawling headquarters complex, which also houses Bashir’s official residence and the defense ministry.

There has been an often festive mood at the sit-in with protesters singing dancing to the tunes of revolutionary songs. State television and radio played patriotic music, reminding older Sudanese of how military takeovers unfolded during previous episodes of civil unrest.

(With Reuters and AFP)


A Lebanese nonprofit helps refugees develop confidence through the creative arts

Updated 5 min 24 sec ago

A Lebanese nonprofit helps refugees develop confidence through the creative arts

  • Seenaryo has brought imaginative new learning techniques to hundreds of classrooms across Jordan and Lebanon
  • Youngsters take the stage as part of drive to use drama and song to strengthen community ties

BEIRUT: Lebanese theatrical nonprofit Seenaryo teaches drama, dance and song to marginalized communities, building confidence and self-esteem through the creative arts, while its teacher-support app has brought imaginative new learning techniques to hundreds of classrooms across Jordan and Lebanon.

Founded in 2015 by British expat duo Victoria Lupton and Oscar Wood, Seenaryo’s five-day intensive theater workshops are still operating despite the coronavirus pandemic, with the group’s most recent — socially distanced — project staged at Beirut’s Dar Al-Aytam Al-Islamiya orphanage in September.

Up to 30 boys and girls, or even a group of adults, participate in each workshop where, through improvisation exercises, they brainstorm ideas to create a musical play, write a script and song lyrics, and master dance routines. Each play includes five original songs set to professionally made backing tracks. The group then performs its play to a local audience.

Up to 30 boys and girls, or even adults, participate in each workshop where, through improvisation exercises, they brainstorm ideas to create a musical play, write a script and song lyrics, and master dance routines. (Supplied)

“What we’re trying to do is support our participants to feel a sense of agency and ownership over their own lives, to feel that they can contribute to their communities and have an impact on their own lives and those around them,” Lupton said. “Play-based learning and theater does that by building life skills — that might be communication skills and empathy or building confidence and a sense of self-worth.”

Initially, Seenaryo worked solely with Syrian and Palestinian refugees. “Very quickly, within a year, we realized it was neither particularly helpful in terms of existing tensions between communities nor reaching the neediest beneficiaries if we just focused on refugees, so we widened the focus to work with all marginalized people regardless of nationality,” Lupton said.

“Theater has the power to bring a community together and feel like a family.”

In 2019 alone, Seenaryo staged 15 original theater productions in Jordan and Lebanon. Aside from the co-founders, most staff are from the local community. The non-profit also runs several choirs for children and women singing music from around the world as well as original songs written by participants in two-part harmony.

The influx of refugee children has strained the education systems of Lebanon and Jordan, with low quality teaching causing children to drop out of school, while stressed teachers often quit. In response, Seenaryo created a teacher training book that this year launched as an app, Playkit, to support educators teaching children aged three to eight.

“We fit into the national strategies of dealing with this new population by helping to increase teaching quality, Lupton said. “The Playkit is a shortcut to 21st century learning techniques. Just this small intervention can have a transformative impact on classrooms and helps keep children in school.”

On the app, there are hundreds of play-based activities available including games, songs, interactive stories and tools to help classroom management. These take the form of how-to videos, flashcards, music tracks and step-by-step teaching instructions. Among the subjects covered are languages, mathematics, health, the natural and human worlds, and social and emotional learning. The app is available in Arabic, English and French.

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As of early September, 113 schools were using the app along with 1,075 teachers and 28,875 children.

Usually, teachers would first undertake a three-day training course before incorporating the app into their classroom activities, but the coronavirus pandemic has halted in-person instruction as schools shut. So, Seenaryo created short, instructive three-minute videos that it sends to parents and caregivers via WhatsApp to help them home school children.

This distance-learning program, “I Learn from Home,” dispatches three new videos each week to around 2,500 families. “These lesson plans needed to be accessible to even people who are illiterate or have low educational attainment, which is why we went for video,” said Lupton. “These are a very engaging set of instructions as to how to teach that day’s lesson, whether it’s on health or maths or whatever was in the curriculum that day.”

Seenaryo is funded through various government and non-government agencies, while the organization hopes subscriptions to Playkit will enable it to provide the app to schools. Now, with Lebanon facing new hardships and traumas, Seenaryo’s community-building projects are needed more than ever and Lupton’s team is ready and determined to help.

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This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.