Sudan’s ruling military council on Friday promised the country would have a new civilian government, a day after the armed forces overthrew President Omar al-Bashir after 30 years in power.
The council, which is now running Sudan under Defence Minister Mohammed Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, said it expects a pre-election transition period it announced on Thursday to last two years at most or much less if chaos can be avoided.
The council also announced that it would not extradite Bashir to face allegations of genocide at the international war crimes court.
Instead he would go on trial in Sudan.
Friday’s announcement of a civilian government by the head of the military council’s political committee, General Omar Zain al-Abideen, appeared aimed at reassuring demonstrators who took to the streets to warn against imposing army rule after Bashir’s overthrow.
Abideen pledged that the military council would not interfere with the civilian government. However he said the defence and interior ministries would be under the council’s control.
He said the military council had no solutions to Sudan’s crisis and these would come from the protesters.
“We are the protectors of the demands of the people,” he said. “We are not greedy for power.”
Earlier on Friday, thousands of Sudanese demonstrators camped outside the defence ministry to push for a civilian government, defying a curfew and calling for mass prayers.
Demonstrators who have been holding almost daily anti-Bashir protests have rejected the decision to set up a transitional military council and vowed to continue protests until a civilian government is established.
Activists called for mass Friday prayers outside the defence ministry compound, a focal point for protests.
At the compound, large tents were put up and people brought in food and handed out water as the crowd swelled, a Reuters witness said.
Ahmed al-Sadek, a 39-year-old trader, said he had not slept at his home since the sit-in began on Saturday.
Activists wearing yellow vests controlled traffic around the compound on Friday morning and managed foot traffic to and from the sit-in, a Reuters witness said. They also blocked a major bridge in central Khartoum.
Bashir, 75, had faced 16 weeks of demonstrations against him.
What next for protesters?
Thousands of people flocked to an anti-government protest outside the defence ministry on Thursday, while huge crowds took to the streets in central Khartoum, dancing and shouting anti-Bashir slogans. Protesters chanted: “It has fallen, we won.”
Demonstrators called for a civilian government and said they would not accept an administration led by military and security figures, or by Bashir’s aides.
Omar Saleh Sennar, a senior member of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, one of the main protest groups, said it expected to negotiate with the military over a transfer of power.
“We will only accept a transitional civilian government,” Sennar said.
Names of Bashir’s possible successors that have been circulating include the defence Minister, an ex-military intelligence chief, also an Islamist, and former army chief of staff Emad al-Din Adawi.
Adawi is said to be favoured by regional neighbours at odds with Bashir over his Islamist leanings.
Bashir detained, military council takes over
Sudan’s defense minister said on Thursday that President Omar al-Bashir had been detained “in a safe place” and that a military council would run the country for a two-year transitional period, confirming a long anticipated coup by the armed forces.
In a statement broadcast on state TV Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf said there would be elections at the end of the transitional period.
Seated on a gold-upholstered armchair, Auf announced a three-month state of emergency, a nationwide ceasefire and the suspension of the constitution.
He also said Sudan’s air space would be closed for 24 hours and border crossings shut until further notice.
Sudanese sources said Bashir was at the presidential residence under “heavy guard”.
A son of Sadiq al-Mahdi, the head of the country’s main opposition Umma Party, told al-Hadath TV that Bashir was being held with “a number of leaders of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group”.
The defence minister made an appeal to the citizens, asking them to tolerate security measures that will be put in place. He also pledged that human rights will be observed throughout the transition period.