The head of Sudan military council has stepped down as transitional leader a day after leader Omar al-Bashir was ousted in a coup.
Defence minister Awad Ibn Auf announced his decision on state television on Friday. Lieutenant General Abdel-Fattah Burhan will be the new head of the transitional military council, Mr Ibn Auf said in a speech. He said: “I, the head of the military council, announce I am giving up the post.” Mr Ibn Auf added that he had taken the decision to preserve unity of the armed forces.
Tens of thousands of Sudanese protesters have been rallying in front of the military headquarters in Khartoum, against the military takeover of power on Thursday.
The country’s millitary has rejected calls to hand the ousted President to the International Criminal Court, where he faces genocide charges for his deadly campaign in the western Darfur region, and said he would be put on trial at home. The United States has imposed sanctions on Mr Ibn Auf since 2007, saying he armed and directed pro-government militias known as the Janjaweed, accused of widespread atrocities against civilians and rapes during the conflict. He was head of military intelligence during the brutal campaign to suppress the Darfur insurgency in the 2000s.
Burhan’s record appears to be cleaner than the rest of al-Bashir’s generals, and he is not known to be implicated in war crimes or wanted by international courts. He was one of the generals who met with protesters earlier Friday to try to persuade them to end their campaign.
Celebrations erupted in the streets of Khartoum after Mr Ibn Auf announced he was stepping down, with protesters clapping and chanting “revolutionaries, we will continue our path.” Tens of thousands have been rallying in front of the military headquarters to protest the military takeover of power after al-Bashir’s ouster. Along with al-Bashir, the ICC has indicted two other senior figures in his regime – Abdel-Rahim Muhammad Hussein, who was interior and defence minister during much of the conflict, and Ahmed Haroun, a senior security chief at the time who last month was named by al-Bashir to run the ruling National Congress Party.
Both were among those reported by the Sudanese media to have been arrested Thursday in a sweep by the military against al-Bashir’s inner circle. Zein Abedeen confirmed the media reports Friday without specifying the two men.
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