Erdogan hopes Sudan will return to 'normal democratic process'

President Erdogan visited Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum in December 2017 and welcomed him several times to Turkey -- but said he hoped Sudan would move "towards a normal democratic process" following the 75-year-old's removal from office (AFP Photo/KAYHAN OZER)

Ankara (AFP) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said he hoped Sudan would return to a "normal democratic process" after an uprising led to the army toppling President Omar al-Bashir, a close ally of Turkey.

The Sudanese defence minister announced earlier on Thursday that Bashir had been removed from power and detained by the army following months of protests in the northeast African country which began in December over higher bread prices.

"I hope that Sudan overcomes this affair with fraternity and ease, and I believe the country should work towards a normal democratic process," Erdogan said during a press conference in Ankara with the president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

Erdogan said the situation was unclear with no "reliable information" regarding Bashir's whereabouts.

"But let me say this, the most important desire is for Sudan to get past this period with national reconciliation and peacefully, because these countries have suffered a lot from these kind of coups," Erdogan added.

Bashir visited Turkey several times despite being wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He was one of Erdogan's guests when the new Istanbul airport was inaugurated in October.

After a visit by Erdogan in 2017 which led to a strengthening of ties between the two countries, Sudan agreed to let Turkey restore the Red Sea port of Suakin Island, which thrived during the Ottoman era, but fell into disrepair.

Erdogan at the time denied there were plans to build a military base but said the renovated port could attract Hajj-bound pilgrims to the island and boost tourism.