President of Sudan Declares State of Emergency
Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir, declared a year-long state of emergency on Friday (Feb. 22) in a live TV address to the nation from the presidential palace in Khartoum. The leader, who came to power through a 1989 coup, announced that he would dissolve both the country’s central and state governments. He also announced that he would delay his push for new constitutional amendments that would allow him to run for a third term in office.
So far following his announcement, al-Bashir has appointed a new prime minister, despite leaving the current defence, foreign, and justice ministers in place. According to a presidential statement, he also appointed all new state governors from the military.
These measures come in response to months of protests that have left the authority of al-Bashir shaken after his roughly thirty year rule. Originally, the protests began on December 19 in the town of Atbara, northeast of the capital Khartoum, in response to soaring bread prices. However, within a short amount of time, the movement started calling for the ousting of the president with nearly daily protests across the entire country.
In a shocking statement during his address, President al-Bashir acknowledged the legitimacy of the protests. He said that their demands were “legitimate” but that attempts were being made to exploit the youth protests “to take the country to the unknown.” This acknowledgement, while a step in the right direction, doesn’t change the reality of the situation.
Al-Bashir’s rule of the country has been marred by violence and civil wars. He is currently wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes and genocide charges. His security crackdown on these most recent string of demonstrations has left at least 57 protestors dead. Tear gas and live ammunition are commonly used as measures to try to break by these protests.
The state of emergency will allow security forces to use even more force in cracking down on demonstrators and carrying out detentions. It will also put even more restrictions and pressure on the press and the political opposition. The state of emergency will not, however, fix the spiralling inflation and continuing decline of its currency.