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Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf,(left) had been named de facto leader after overthrowing President Omar al-Bashir (R). Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Protesters jubilant as Sudan coup leader steps down after a day

Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf quits after helping remove ousted president Omar al-Bashir

WT24 Desk

The Sudanese military has moved swiftly to replace the country’s controversial transitional leader after a single day, following street rallies against him, AP reports.

Thousands of jubilant protesters celebrated in the streets after the defence minister, Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, who was named de facto leader after overthrowing Omar al-Bashir on Thursday, announced that he was stepping down as transitional leader. He named a reputable army general as his successor.

The military also said it would not hand over ousted president, Omar al-Bashir, to the international criminal court, where he faces charges of crimes against humanity.

Auf said he would be replaced by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, general inspector of the armed forces, as head of the transitional council, which will rule the country for two years until elections.

“I am confident he will steer the ship to safe shores,” he said of Burhan, adding that he was stepping aside to “preserve unity” of the armed forces.

It came as police spokesman Hashem Ali said at least 16 people had been killed and 20 injured by stray bullets at protests and sit-ins on Thursday and Friday.

Burhan’s record appears to be cleaner than the rest of Bashir’s generals and he is not known to be implicated in war crimes or wanted by international courts. He was one of the generals who went to meet protesters at the week-long encampment near the military headquarters and listened to their views.

Ibn Auf is a controversial figure, blacklisted by Washington for his role as the army’s head of military intelligence and security during the Darfur conflict. He has been defence minister since 2015 and was promoted in February by Bashir to the role of first vice-president.

Chants rang out across the sit-in where tens of thousands have been rallying in front of the military headquarters to protest against the military takeover of power after Bashir’s removal. “Revolutionaries, we will continue our path,” the protesters shouted as they danced and clapped.

Earlier another top general, Omar Zein Abedeen had said that Bashir, 75, would not be extradited to the International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, Netherlands as doing so would be “an ugly mark on Sudan.”

“Even rebels carrying weapons, we don’t extradite them,” he told reporters at a press conference in Khartoum.

Zein Abedeen said Sudanese courts would hold Bashir “accountable,” but did not specify what charges he could face. After his arrest, the military denounced the former leader and his government for corruption, maladministration and “lack of justice.”

The protesters rejected Ibn Auf’s leadership because he was head of military intelligence during the brutal campaign to suppress the Darfur insurgency in the 2000s. The US has imposed sanctions on him since 2007, saying that he armed and directed pro-government militias known as the Janjaweed, accused of widespread atrocities against civilians and rapes during the conflict.

The move also underscores the limits on the reach of the International Criminal Court. On Friday, ICC judges rejected a request by the court’s prosecutor to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan and alleged crimes by US forces there, in part because the US, Afghan government and Taliban are not expected to cooperate.

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