The head of Sudan‘s ruling military council has announced his resignation in a speech broadcast on state television.
General Awad Ibn Auf’s announcement came late on Friday as tens of thousands rallied in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, demanding a civilian-led transition after the military overthrow of the country’s longtime ruler, Omar al-Bashir.
“I, the head of the military council, announce I am giving up the post,” Ibn Auf said, adding he took the decision to preserve unity of the armed forces.
“This is for the benefit of our nation, without having to look at special interests, big or small that may impede its progress … I would like to recommend that you work together and reach a solution very speedily,” he added.
Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Adelrahman Burhan will now head the transitional council.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said protesters in Khartoum greeted Ibn Auf’s announcement with “ululating and cheering”.
“People are celebrating on the streets; they are saying that they managed to topple President Omar al-Bashir after four months of protests and less than 48 hours after the military council took over, they managed to bring down Ibn Auf, too,” she said.
“He [Burhan] does not have the same tainted record … that most of the [al-Bashir] regime officials had,” Morgan added, citing Ibn Auf and Bashir’s alleged responsibility for war crimes in Sudan’s western region of Darfur between 2003-2008.
‘Triumph of the masses’
Burhan is expected to address the Sudanese public on Saturday, Morgan said, adding that the armed forces will be keen to gauge the response from pro-democracy activists to Ibn Auf’s resignation.
“The protesters are waiting to see what kind of vision and plan Burhan has, and to see if he is going to be the person they would want to represent them during the transition period, or whether they should continue with their sit-in,” she said.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded the months-long demonstrations that triggered al-Bashir’s overthrow, praised Ibn Auf’s departure as a “triumph of the will of the masses”.
Protesters in Khartoum, meanwhile, told Al Jazeera the toppling of al-Bashir and resignation of Ibn Auf within 36 hours was the result of “patience, sacrifices and struggle for four months”.
“We now want to witness the power being handed over to the civilians, this is the … democracy and freedom we aimed to achieve,” Abdul Jabar Ibrahim, 60, said.
The SPA called on people to continue a six-day-long sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital and take to the streets outside the military’s “various garrisons” elsewhere throughout the country.
Earlier on Friday the group pledged to “resist the emergency, curfew and all the actions announced by the coupists”.
Al Jazeera and news agencies