The new boss of the transitional military council, which announced Saturday the resignation of the head of the powerful Sudanese intelligence service NISS , remains Saturday under pressure from the protest movement to hand over quickly to a civilian power.
Two days after the removal of President Omar al-Bashir, who led Sudan with an iron fist for three decades, the situation continues to evolve at a rapid pace: on Friday, the Military Council, which transition, has replaced his own leader. This decision was greeted with joy by the thousands of Sudanese present in front of the army headquarters in Khartoum, who nevertheless decided to remain mobilized.
On Saturday, within the state apparatus, the dreaded NISS intelligence service has been disrupted: “The head of the transitional military council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, accepted the resignation” of Salah Gosh , boss of the NISS , said the Council in a statement.
Mr. Gosh, who had regained control of the NISS in 2018 after a first decade at the helm of Intelligence until 2009, oversaw the crackdown on the protest movement over the last four months.
This crackdown resulted in the arrest of thousands of demonstrators, opposition leaders and journalists. On Thursday, shortly after the announcement of the removal of Omar al-Bashir, the NISS announced the release of “all political prisoners” in the country.
And dozens of people have died since the start of the protest movement in December.
– “New orders” – Friday, the thousands of Sudanese still gathered before the headquarters of the army showed their joy at the announcement of the ouster of Awad Ibn Ouf, a close friend of Mr. Bashir, at the head of the Military Council in power for barely twenty-four hours.
Mr. Ibn Ouf was therefore replaced by Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, an inspector general of the armed forces respected internally but unknown to the general public.
Despite this development, the crowd remained mobilized Saturday morning in front of army headquarters.
“We are waiting for new instructions from the Association of Sudanese Professionals ( SPA ) to find out whether we are holding our rally until we are fully satisfied with our requests or if we are evacuating,” said a protester who spent the night there. The SPA is spearheading the protests that have been going on since 19 December in Sudan.
In the morning, soldiers removed the barricades that had been laid in several streets leading to their headquarters. Meanwhile, protesters traded with the military or were busy cleaning up the premises, preparing food, or drinking tea or coffee after a seventh consecutive night on the spot.
Protesters showed their pride in the turn of events, even before the announcement of the NISS leader’s resignation .
“In two days, we overthrew two presidents” or “we succeeded”, they chanted, brandishing Sudanese flags.
On Friday, the ruling generals tried to reassure the international community and the protesters of their intentions, promising in particular to hand over the keys to a civilian government.
“The role of the Military Council is to protect the security and stability of the country,” General Omar Zinelabidine, a member of the Military Council, told Arab and African diplomats.
“This is not a military coup, but a stand in favor of the people,” he said.
“We will open a dialogue with political parties to discuss how to manage Sudan. There will be a civilian government and we will not intervene in its composition, “he promised again.
The Military Council also claimed that Omar al-Bashir was in detention but that he would not be “delivered abroad”, even though he is under arrest warrants of the International Criminal Court ( ICC ).
– “Civil Government” – After weeks of demonstrations demanding his departure, Mr. Bashir, 75, was overthrown Thursday by the army that has set up a “Military Transition Council” for two years.
The organizers of the protest promptly urged the military to “transfer power to a civilian transitional government”, otherwise the mobilization would continue throughout the country.
In Khartoum, protesters did not lift their sit-in in front of army headquarters, despite the curfew imposed since Thursday from 20:00 GMT to 02:00 GMT .
Before the Security Council of the UN , Ambassador of Sudan, Yasir Abdelsalam, also tried to allay fears.
The Military Council “will be satisfied to be the guarantor of a civil government”. He further added that the transition period could “be reduced according to developments”.
General Zinelabidine said Friday that the military council was ready to work “hand in hand” with the demonstrators “to find solutions” to the problems of the Sudanese. He also called for funds to deal with the economic crisis, triggering the move in December.
Among the measures decreed Thursday by the military include the closure of land borders until further notice and a ceasefire across the country, including Darfur (west), where a conflict has made more than 300,000 deaths since 2003 according to the UN . In recent years, however, the level of violence has dropped.
Amnesty International called for Mr. Bashir to return to the ICC . In 2009, this Hague-based court issued an arrest warrant against him for “war crimes” and “against humanity” in Darfur, adding the following year the charge of “genocide”.
“The fact that Bashir has accepted his dismissal proves that it is, rather than delivering him to the ICC , to protect him,” Jerome Tubiana, an independent researcher on Sudan , told AFP .