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Embattled Sudan president quits role as ruling party chairman

Omar al-Bashir is facing calls for him to step down as president [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 March, 2019

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President Omar al-Bashir has stepped down as chairman of Sudan's ruling party, handing his former responsibilities to a party leader who is also wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Sudan's embattled President Omar al-Bashir quit his role as chairman of the ruling party on Friday amid a nationwide protest movement against his nearly three-decade rule.

According to statement from the National Congress Party, Bashir delegated his powers as chairman to deputy chairman, Ahmed Harun, until the party's next general conference. No date has been set for the conference.

Local media quoted Harun as saying Bashir took this step in order to "devote himself to the national tasks" as the country's leader.

Like al-Bashir, Harun is also wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed in Sudan's Darfur region. He was appointed the party's deputy chairman earlier this week.

Sudan has been rocked by anti-government protests since a government decision to triple the price of bread in December.

The unrest quickly escalated into nationwide rallies demanding that the country's president step down.

On Thursday, an emergency court in the capital, Khartoum, sent eight people to prison over their participation in anti-government protests that have engulfed Khartoum and its twin city, Omdurman, the state-run news agency SUNA reported. Four were sentenced to five-year terms each and three got three-year sentences. One person was sentenced to six months.

Earlier, Bashir banned unauthorised public gatherings. The same court also ordered the deportation of an Ethiopian national over the same charges.

The sentences were the first handed down by the emergency courts in Khartoum set up earlier this week to investigate violations under the state of emergency that Bashir declared late in February to quash the protests.

The Democratic Lawyers Alliance, which is part of an umbrella group spearheading the protests, said at least 870 protesters were brought before emergency courts in Khartoum and Omdurman on Thursday.

Sudanese officials claim 30 people have died in protest-related violence, but activists put the tally at 57. They also say some of those killed died under torture.

Human Rights Watch says at least 51 have been killed during the brutal crackdown.

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