Sudan president has stepped down amid protests, TV channel reports

Sudan President Bashir STEPS DOWN as tens of thousands march in protests against regime

Mr Ibn Auf announced a state of emergency, a nationwide ceasefire and the suspension of the constitution.

Attempts by security forces to break up the Khartoum sit-in have killed at least 22 - including five soldiers, who organisers said were defending the protesters - and injured more than 150.

Hundreds of Sudanese protesters on Wednesday staged a sit-in outside army headquarters in the capital for the fifth day in a row amid continued calls for President Omar al-Bashir to step down.

The developments raised speculation that, behind the scenes, the military aimed to install one of its one in place of al-Bashir. There were also reports that several senior figures close to Bashir in the ruling National Congress party had been detained.

He is is a pariah in many countries and is also wanted by the worldwide war crimes tribunal for atrocities in Darfur.

Al-Bashir, the president for 30 years who is a pariah in many countries, is also wanted by the global war crimes tribunal for atrocities in Darfur. "Protesters are saying they are very confident that Bashir will resign", she said.

But in the eastern cities of Kasala and Port Sudan, protesters stormed NISS buildings after the releases failed to materialize, witnesses said.

Al-Bashir came to power on the back of a 1989 military coup against the democratically-elected government of Sadiq al-Mahdi.

Shortly afterward, thousands of demonstrators packed the streets of central Khartoum, their mood turning from jubilation at Mr al-Bashir's expected departure to anger at the announcement of a military-led transition, a Reuters witness said.

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The United States considers Sudan a state sponsor of terrorism and has placed economic sanctions on the country but also maintains a security relationship that involves cooperation on intelligence and counterterrorism.

Al-Bashir came to power in a 1989 coup, leading an alliance of the military and Islamist hard-liners.

It remained unclear whether Ibn Auf's announcement of a transitional government would placate those military forces that sided with the protestors.

State television and radio played patriotic music, reminding older Sudanese of how military takeovers unfolded during previous episodes of civil unrest.

Activists overseas pressed for Sudan to turn over Bashir to the International Criminal Court. But the latest wave of sustained protests, which began last December, intensified the pressure on him and triggered divisions in the army and security apparatus, with some mid-level soldiers and police defecting to the protesters.

Mariam al-Mahdi, a leading member of the opposition Umma, called the military's takeover "a unsafe move".

Mr Bashir is the subject of an worldwide arrest warrant issued by the global Criminal Court (ICC), which accuses him of organising war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan's western Darfur region. Both countries poured hundreds of millions of dollars into propping up Bashir's regime and the Sudanese economy as Gulf states vie for influence on the Horn of Africa.

Facing an International Criminal Court arrest warrant over the death of an estimated 300,000 people in Darfur, Bashir held on to power as a shield against a trial similar to that of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

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