Sudan coup leader Awad Ibn Auf steps down

Sudan coup leader Awad Ibn Auf steps down

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Mr Ibn Auf quit a day after becoming military council chief

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.

Protesters in Khartoum celebrated his departure.

The Sudan Professionals Association, which has been spearheading the protests, said Mr Ibn Auf’s decision to step down was a “victory” for demonstrators.

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

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

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

Awad Ibn Ouf has stepped down to be replaced by a general the senior military hope will be more acceptable to the protesters. The momentum is with civil society.

The regime has floundered since this phase of protests began. The old ways of coercion haven’t worked and they face a civil society that is well organised and disciplined. This is a further retreat. It is unlikely to be last.

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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