Sudan's De Facto Military Leader Steps Down

Le Lit-Gen Abdel Fattah El Burhan Abdel Rahman a

A day after he announced the removal of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's defense minister stepped down as the leader of a transitional council. Protesters have accused the military of "stealing the revolution."

Sudanese Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf stepped down as the transitional military council late Friday, a day after he announced the removal of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.

Ibn Auf, who is under US sanctions for supporting genocidal militias in the Darfur region, had been under international pressure to establish a civilian transitional government. He said Sudanese General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdulrahman would succeed him as the council's leader.

What Ibn Auf said:

"I, the head of the military council, announce I am giving up the post."

"This is for the benefit of our nation."

"This country has great people and a great army."

'Not a coup'

Lieutenant General Omar Zain al-Adbin, the military council's political committee chief, said: "The role of the military council is to protect the security and stability of the country. This is not a military coup but taking the side of the people."

But Khalid Omer, who leads the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, told DW: "They (military council) are trying to steal the revolution. If you want to engage in genuine dialogue you wouldn't suspend the constitution."

New 'Arab Spring'?

On the back of popular protests, the Sudanese military on Thursday removed longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir from power in a move widely seen as a "coup."

What first began as protests against rising food prices quickly morphed into a sustained challenge against al-Bashir's 30-year rule. The protests gained a boost last week when Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down after protests against his two decades in power.

The coup in Sudan resembled similar military interventions during the so-called Arab Spring of 2011 that removed Middle East rulers after sustained protests.

Despite the immediate jubilation surrounding al-Bashir's downfall, the military intervention risks replacing one dictatorship with another, dashing protesters' hopes for a civilian government and opening the way for further instability.

ls/rc (AFP, AP)

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