Ibn AufImage copyright AFP

The head of Sudan’s military council has stood down a day after leading a coup that toppled long-time leader Omar al-Bashir amid a wave of protests.

Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf announced his decision on state TV. He named as his successor Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan.

It comes after protesters refused to leave the streets, saying the coup leaders were too close to Mr Bashir.

The army has said it will stay in power for two years, followed by elections.

Mr Bashir’s downfall followed months of unrest that began in December over rising prices. At least 38 people have died in the protests.

Mr Ibn Auf was head of military intelligence during the Darfur conflict in the 2000s. The US imposed sanctions on him in 2007.

Mr Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity over that conflict.

What happened on Friday?

Despite the removal of Mr Bashir on Thursday, demonstrators refused to disperse, camping out outside the army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, defying a curfew declared by the military.

They are demanding a transition to civilian rule before they return home.

On Friday, a spokesman for the military council said the army was not seeking power and Sudan’s future would be decided by the protesters – but said the army would maintain public order and disturbances would not be tolerated.

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Media captionSudanese women reject ‘regime coup’

The military council also said it would not extradite Mr Bashir to face the ICC charges – which he denies.

It has imposed a three-month state of emergency, with the constitution suspended.

A precarious moment full of possibility

The army said it had ruled out a violent response to the protests before Mr Bashir was overthrown because they didn’t want the loss of life. It will be difficult (of course not impossible) to walk back on that.

There is then the question of the dynamics within the army. Younger officers and rank and file will have been emboldened by their role and public reception during the protests. Will they be content to allow the Mr Bashir generation monopolise military power?

And there’s the economic crisis brought about by misrule, corruption and loss of oil revenues. Even the regime’s friends in the Middle East and Asia will think twice about rescue packages if it looks like a new version of the old venality and brutality. That’s an important pressure.

This is an exciting moment. Just think about the role of women in all of this, of social media and civil society. It’s happening in Sudan but the significance of these forces working peaceful for change is universal. Yes it’s very precarious, but also full of possibility.


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