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Sudan's new ruler under pressure for swift handover to civilian rule

AFP  |  Khartoum 

Sudan's second new in as many days accepted the resignation of the feared on Saturday as he faced calls at home and abroad for a swift handover to civilian rule.

Career soldier took the helm of Sudan's transitional military council on Friday when his short-lived predecessor -- a of ousted -- quit in the face of persistent protests.

Burhan now has the tough task of persuading the tens of thousands of protesters who remain on the streets that he is not just another from the Bashir regime but is genuinely committed to civilian-led reform.

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

Ghosh had overseen a sweeping crackdown led by NISS agents against protesters taking part in four months of mass demonstrations that led to the toppling of Bashir in a palace coup by the on Thursday.

Dozens of protesters were killed and thousands of activists, opposition leaders and journalists arrested.

The police said Friday that 16 people had been killed in live fire in alone over the previous two days as NISS agents led a desperate last stand for Bashir before the intervened.

Burhan was expected to meet protest organisers later on Saturday to hear their demands, opposition sources said.

A photograph published by state agency SUNA showed him talking with protesters outside headquarters on Friday, before his elevation to the top job.

erupted with joy when Ibn Ouf tendered his resignation barely 24 hours after taking the oath of office.

sounded as jubilant crowds streamed out of their homes chanting: "It fell again, it fell again".

But the organisers of the four months of mass protests that have now toppled two leaders in quick succession, called on demonstrators to keep up their week-old vigil outside army headquarters until Burhan reveals his true colours.

Ibn Ouf had served as Bashir's right up to the president's downfall, after three decades of iron-fisted rule and was widely despised on the streets.

A former military intelligence chief, he remains under US sanctions for his role in the regime's brutal response to an ethnic minority rebellion which erupted in the western region of in 2003.

Burhan is a career soldier who comes with less baggage from Bashir's deeply unpopular rule.

But protest leaders say that a change of will make no difference; what they want is an immediate handover to a civilian government.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, whose grass-roots membership of doctors, teachers and engineers have spearheaded the nationwide protests, hailed Ibn Ouf's departure as "a victory of the people's will".

But it demanded that Burhan swiftly "transfer the powers of the military council to a transitional civilian government."

"If this does not happen we will continue with our sit-in in front of the army headquarters and other towns," the SPA said in a statement.

Outside the Middle East, the formation of a military government to replace Bashir has met with widespread criticism.

The said Bashir's overthrow by the military was "not the appropriate response to the challenges facing and the aspirations of its people".

The urged the army to carry out a "swift" handover to civilian rule.

Former colonial ruler Britain said that a two-year transition overseen by the military "is not the answer."

"We need to see a swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership," said

Members of the military council sought to reassure foreign diplomats about its intentions.

"This is not a military coup, but taking the side of the people," the council's told Arab and African diplomats at a meeting broadcast on state television.

But tens of thousands camped outside army headquarters for a seventh straight night in defiance of an nighttime curfew to keep up the pressure on the military rulers.

Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup, remained in custody, but the military council has said it would never extradite him or any other Sudanese citizen.

The (ICC) has issued two arrest warrants against Bashir for suspected genocide and war crimes over the regime's brutal campaign of repression in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, April 13 2019. 17:40 IST