Sun, Apr 14, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Sudan’s intelligence chief, interim leader step down

Reuters, KHARTOUM

A woman chants slogans and waves a national flag at a protest outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

Sudan’s security and intelligence chief quit yesterday, state media reported, a day after the Sudanese minister of defense stepped down abruptly as interim leader following the overthrow of former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir and protesters kept up demands for change.

Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, known as Salah Gosh, who headed the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service and was once the most influential person in the country after al-Bashir, was held responsible by protesters for the killing of demonstrators demanding an end to military rule.

Sudanese Minister of Defense Awad Ibn Auf late on Friday stepped down as head of the transitional military council after only a day in the post as protesters demanded faster political change.

The new head of the military council, Sudanese Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdelrahman, accepted Gosh’s resignation, the official Sudan News Agency said yesterday.

Al-Burhan is a military commander believed to be more ready to talk to the protesters.

He was the third-most senior general in the Sudanese Armed Forces and is little known in public life. As head of Sudan’s ground forces he oversaw Sudanese troops fighting in the Saudi Arabia-led Yemen war and has close ties to senior Persian Gulf military officials.

Celebrations erupted on the streets of Khartoum overnight following Ibn Auf’s resignation. Thousands of protesters waved flags and illuminated mobile phones in the darkness and drivers hooted car horns.

People chanted: “The second has fallen,” a reference to Ibn Auf and al-Bashir, witnesses said.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has been leading protests to demand a civilian government, called for more demonstrations.

“Today, we continue the march to finish the victory for our victorious revolution,” the SPA said in a statement.

“We assert that our revolution is continuing and will not retreat or deviate from its path until we achieve ... our people’s legitimate demands of handing over power to a civilian government,” it said.

The military council on Thursday said that it expected a pre-election transition to last two years at most, or less if chaos could be avoided.

Al-Bashir, 75, seized power in a 1989 military coup. He had faced 16 weeks of demonstrations brought on by rising food costs, high unemployment and increasing repression during his three decades in power.

The protests escalated on Saturday last week when thousands of demonstrators, apparently bolstered by change in Algeria following similar protests, marched toward the Sudanese Ministry of Defense in central Khartoum to deliver a memorandum demanding that the military side with them.

Demonstrators have been camping outside the compound since then to push for a handover of power.

Worshipers packed the streets around the ministry for Friday prayers, heeding a call by the SPA to challenge the military council.

The numbers swelled in the afternoon and a witness estimated hundreds of thousands of protesters thronged areas around the ministry.

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