Sudanese protesters celebrate as head of military council steps down

Moussa Faki

African Union criticises military takeover in Sudan

Days after the president's ouster, Sudan's security and intelligence chief Salah Gosh has resigned, the country's ruling military council said on Saturday.

The new leader accepted the resignation on Saturday of the head of the National Intelligence and Security Service, Salih Ghosh, the military council announced.

Meanwhile, Mohammed has now been tasked to run the country for two years pending election preparations.

"He's never been in the limelight like Ibn Ouf or General Kamal Abdelmarouf", the officer said, referring to the army's former chief of staff.

The shake-up at the top comes as Sudanese civilians protest against the army rulers who took control after toppling president Omar al Bashir.

The protesters have said they will remain in the streets until a civilian transitional council is formed.

"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".

"The Sudanese people should determine who leads them and their future and the Sudanese people have been clear and are demanding a civilian-led transition", State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters.

The AU says the move is not the appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan and the aspirations of its people.

The ousted president had come to power in a coup in 1989 and ruled Sudan for three decades with an iron fist.

Lieutenant General Omar Zein Abedeen, head of the political military committee, promised to serve as the "protectors" of public will.

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Asked whether the United States supported Bashir being put on trial before the International Criminal Court for Darfur atrocities, Palladino said: "We believe that the victims of Darfur deserve justice, that accountability is essential for achieving lasting peace in Darfur".

A growing economic crisis has gripped the country since the oil-rich southern part split away in 2011, and Thursday's coup followed months of unrest over rising prices.

Organisers of the protests that have rocked Sudan since December vowed to press on until the whole regime was swept aside.

"In both countries, people are fed up by seeing the people sitting in power, calling all the shots, and pocketing the money", said Pierini, a former European Union ambassador to Tunisia and Libya, Syria, Morocco and Turkey.

Thousands of protestors heeded the call to stage a sit-in outside Khartoum army headquarters in defiance of the curfew as pressure piled on the military council 's to hand over to civilian rule.

Earlier the same day, an official military source has stated that no shooting of any kind has occurred around the Army General Command, as opposed to media reports claiming that the new leadership was being targeted.

Thousands kept up their sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum overnight and into Friday morning despite a curfew imposed by the army after it arrested al-Bashir.

He pledged the military would stay in power only as long as it was needed.

"Moreover, the suspension of the constitution could be lifted at any point and the transitional period could be shortened depending on developments on the ground and agreements reached between stakeholders", the Sudanese envoy said.

The military council will be in place for a maximum of two years, it says, but could last only a month if the transition to civilian rule is managed smoothly.

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