Feb. 23 (UPI) -- In response to a sweeping political crisis in his country, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir declared Sudan will be under a state of emergency for one year.
Speaking Friday night, al-Bashir also dismissed Sudan's national government and dissolved the country's state governments, the Sudan Tribune reported.
"I call on Parliament to postpone considering the constitutional amendments in order to [create a conducive environment] for constructive dialogue and national initiatives," he said.
The declaration is likely a move to impose martial law on the country, Omer Ismail, senior adviser at the Washington-based non-profit Enough Project, told Voice of America.
One day earlier, the opposition Sudanese Congress Party said Communist Party leader Mokhtar al-Khatib had been arrested, as had Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, the deputy head of the Umma Party.
"There is no parliament, there is no Cabinet. He has all the powers in his hands. He can order the army to be in the streets, the tanks, any unit of the army," Ismail said. "The security forces have free hands to arrests people, to detain them, to get in their homes, to stop and search anybody at any given time of the day."
But the Tribune reported that al-Bashir struck a sympathetic tone in his speech, remaining open-minded about anti-government protests in recent weeks.
Activists place the number of dead at 56.