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Sudan's military leader resigns after one day in power; protesters celebrate

In a broadcast on state television, Sudanese citizens were told: “This is not a military coup, but taking the side of the people.”

SUDAN’S NEW MILITARY leader has resigned, a day after being sworn in, as the country’s army rulers insisted they would pave the way for a civilian government.

The head of Sudan’s new ruling military council, General Awad Ibn Ouf, announced his departure after being sworn in late on Thursday following the ouster of long-time president Omar al-Bashir.

His move came shortly after the council’s political chief Lieutenant General Omar Zain al-Abdin told Arab and African diplomats at a meeting broadcast on state television: “This is not a military coup, but taking the side of the people.”

Ouf’s departure was an apparent sign of confusion among the northeast African country’s new leaders after Thursday’s ousting of iron-fisted Bashir.

Files - Sudan's Omar al-Bashir Forced Out In Coup Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attending a ceremony in Hasahisa, January 2017. Source: Depo Photos/ABACA

But there was jubilation at the news on the streets of Khartoum.

Tens of thousands of protestors had kept up a vigil at the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Friday angrily demanding that the military make way for a civilian government.

“I hereby announce my resignation as head of the Transitional Military Council,” Ibn Ouf said in an address to the nation, announcing he had chosen General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdulrahman to replace him.

Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf steps down in Sudan Source: DPA/PA Images

He said he trusted in Abdulrahman’s “experience and suitability I trust to bring this ship to a safe shore”.

The Sudanese Professionals Association which has spearheaded the nationwide protest campaign hailed Ibn Ouf’s departure as “a victory of the people’s will”.

The umbrella group organising the protests called on newly sworn-in ruler Burhan to “transfer the powers of the military council to a transitional civilian government.”

“If this does not happen we will continue with our sit-in in front of the army headquarters and other towns,” it said in a statement.

Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf steps down in Sudan People celebrate outside the Sudanese army headquarters after Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf announced he is stepping down. Source: DPA/PA Images

The demonstrations against Bashir’s 30-year rule first erupted in December, triggered by a tripling of the bread prices in one of the world’s most impoverished countries.

But vast crowds have been thronging outside the army headquarters since Saturday in unprecedented scenes.

Sudan’s police said on Friday that 16 people were killed and another 20 wounded by “live ammunition” in Khartoum during protests over the past two days.

Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf steps down in Sudan Source: DPA/PA Images

Call for aid

After denying charges of a military coup, Abdin said the transitional military council, due to stay in power for two years, would “open dialogue with political parties”.

There “will be a civilian government and we will not intervene in its composition”, he vowed.

Multiple world powers have made calls for a peaceful transition.

Washington urged the military council “to exercise restraint and to allow space for civilian participation within the government”.

The European Union urged the army to carry out a “swift” handover to civilian rule.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that a two-year transition overseen by the military “is not the answer.”

“We need to see a swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership,” Hunt said.

© AFP 2019 

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