Sudan’s Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf said on Friday that he is stepping down as head of the country’s transitional military council, a day after former President Omar Al-Bashir was overthrown in a coup.
Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan will be the new head of the transitional military council, Ibn Auf said in a speech broadcast on state television on Friday.
Ibn Auf said: “I, the head of the military council, announce I am giving up the post.” He said he took the decision to preserve unity of the armed forces.
The head of the military council’s political committee, Gen. Omar Zein Abedeen, earlier said the council would hold a dialogue with political entities.
The council also announced that it would not extradite Al-Bashir to face accusations of genocide at the international Criminal Court. Instead he might go on trial in Sudan.
Friday’s announcement of a future civilian government by Zein Abedeen, appeared aimed at reassuring mistrustful demonstrators who went back into the streets to warn against imposing army rule after Al-Bashir’s ouster.
Separately, Zein Abedeen told diplomats Al-Bashir’s toppling after 30 years in power was “not a military coup.” The council also appealed for aid to tackle the country’s economic crisis.
Tens of thousands of Sudanese protesters have been rallying in front of the military headquarters in Khartoum, against the military takeover of power after ousting Al-Bashir on Thursday.
At least 16 people were killed, and 20 injured by stray bullets at protests and sit-ins on Thursday and Friday, a Sudanese police spokesman said in a statement on Saturday.
Government buildings and private property were also attacked, spokesman Hashem Ali added.
Addressing the UN Security Council on Friday, Sudan’s envoy Yasir Abdelsalam said the two-year transition period to civilian rule could be shortened.
Abdelsalam offered assurances that the military council would support an inclusive civilian-led government.
“The (military) council will be the guarantor of a civilian government to be formed in collaboration with political forces and stakeholders. No party will be excluded,” said Abdelsalam.
The Security Council was meeting to discuss the situation in Abyei, a territory disputed by Sudan and South Sudan.
Zein Abedeen stressed that the military takeover had no political or economic agenda.
But the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) restated its demand for power to be handed immediately to “a transitional civilian government.”
Worshippers packed the streets around the Defense Ministry for Friday prayers, witnesses said, heeding a call by the SPA to challenge the military council.
“We do not reject a military council in principle, but we reject these people because they are from Bashir’s regime,” said Abdelhamid Ahmed, a 24-year-old doctor at the sit-in.
“We don’t want Ibn Auf, we don’t want any military government,” said one protester.