Khartoum – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir declared a nationwide state of emergency on Friday and dissolved the government, in an effort to quell weeks of demonstrations that have rocked his iron-fisted rule of three decades.
“I announce imposing a state of emergency across the country for one year,” Bashir said in a televised address to the nation.
“I announce dissolving the government at the federal level and at the provincial levels,” he added.
Deadly protests have rocked the east African country since December 19, with demonstrators accusing the government of mismanaging the nation’s economy and calling on the veteran leader to step down.
Chanting “freedom, peace, justice,” protesters took to the streets after the government tripled the price of bread.
Demonstrations first erupted in the farming town of Atbara, but the rallies swiftly mushroomed into a major challenge to Bashir’s rule stretching back three decades.
Officials say 31 people have died in the protest-related violence, while Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed including medics and children.
The country’s feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) have launched a sweeping crackdown to quell the protests, jailing hundreds of protesters, opposition leaders, activists and journalists.
Bashir, 75, swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989 that overthrew the elected government of then premier Sadiq al-Mahdi.
He has remained defiant in the face of protests, insisting that the only way the government can be changed is through the ballot box.
He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court to face charges of war crimes and genocide arising out of the long-running conflict in Darfur.