The new head of Sudan’s military council said on Saturday a civilian government would be formed after consultations with the opposition and the transition period would last for a maximum of two years, as protesters kept up pressure for rapid change.
In his first televised address, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdelrahman said he was also cancelling a night curfew ordered by his predecessor and ordered the release of all prisoners jailed under emergency laws ordered by ousted President Omar al-Bashir.
Mr. Bashir was overthrown on Thursday after weeks of mass protests brought on by rising food costs, high unemployment and increasing repression during his three decades in power.
Protest organisers had earlier on Saturday urged people to keep marching to demand a civilian government after the Defence Minister and the intelligence chief stepped down.
Thousands of people gathered in front of the Defence Ministry in central Khartoum. Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, known as Salah Gosh, the former head of the National Intelligence and Security Service, quit on Saturday. He was once the most influential person in the country after Mr. Bashir and protesters held him responsible for the killing of demonstrators demanding an end to military rule.
Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf stepped down as head of the transitional military council late on Friday after only a day in the post.
Celebrations erupted on the streets of Khartoum overnight after Mr. 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!”
“Islamists have now lost control and they are in shock. Their ability to project influence in an organised way inside the state appears weak,” said Sudanese analyst Khalid al-Tijani.
Pressure from protesters
“The reason for the changes in Sudan is the pressure from protesters and pressures within the Army, and the fear among military commanders of a split in the armed forces.”
Mr. Burhan, the new head of the military council, was the third most senior general in the Sudanese armed forces and is little known in public life. As head of Sudans ground forces, he oversaw Sudanese troops fighting in the Saudi-led Yemen war and has close ties to senior Gulf military officials.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has been leading protests to demand a civilian government, called for more demonstrations on Saturday.
“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 protests against Mr. Bashir escalated last Saturday when thousands of demonstrators, apparently bolstered by change in Algeria following similar protests, marched towards the Defence Ministry in Khartoum to deliver a memorandum demanding the military side with them.