Tens of thousands of Sudanese made their way to the center of the country's capital on Thursday, cheering and clapping in celebration as two senior officials said the military had forced longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir to step down after 30 years in power. The circumstances of al-Bashir's apparent ouster and his current whereabouts remain unclear, however. The armed forces were to deliver an "important statement" and asked the nation to wait for it, state TV reported earlier. The two officials, in high positions in the government and the military, told the AP the army forced al-Bashir to step down and was now in talks about forming a transitional government. Sudan's state security agency says authorities are releasing all political prisoners, though it did not indicate when the release would take place.
The swirling reports of a coup following nearly four months of street protests against al-Bashir's rule raised expectations it was a sign the autocrat was relinquishing power or was being removed by the military. Pan-Arab TV networks said top ruling party officials were being arrested. They aired footage of masses they said were heading toward the presidential palace in Khartoum, waving the national flag, chanting, and clapping. Al-Bashir, who is a pariah in many countries, is also wanted by the international war crimes tribunal for atrocities in Darfur. Eyewitnesses in Khartoum say the military is deployed at key sites in the city to secure several installations. Armored vehicles and tanks are parked in the streets and near bridges over the Nile River, they say.
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