Sudan protesters keep up pressure on army that ousted president

Sudanese protesters gather in the streets of Khartoum as they continue to rally demanding a civilian body to lead the transition to democracy on April 12, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

KHARTOUM (BLOOMBERG) - Sudan began its first full day in 30 years without Omar al-Bashir in charge, as protesters in the North African nation vowed to keep up the pressure on the military that deposed him to make way for a civilian government.

Demonstrators maintained an overnight sit-in outside army headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, in spite of a 10pm-4am curfew imposed when the military seized power.

Defence Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf was sworn in late on Thursday (April 11) as head of a military council, which plans to lead Africa's third-largest country for two years and has declared a three-month state of emergency.

The council wants to enter into dialogue with political parties and supports "the demands of the people", it said on Friday (April 12) morning in a statement.

"We want to stabilise the country and give equal opportunities to all."

The comments - and the lack of a crackdown on the six-day sit-in - may temporarily ease fears of a confrontation with the army, which says it needs tightened security to enact its changes.

There was a carnival atmosphere at the site on Thursday night, with protesters chanting, singing and cheering the soldiers guarding the base, even as many activists criticised the military's plan for an extended transition.

The ouster of al-Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup, ends the reign of one of the continent's longest-serving rulers and came after four months of protests in which at least 45 people died.

The 75-year-old, now under house arrest, becomes the second regional leader after Algeria's military-backed president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to leave this month in the face of nationwide protests, stirring echoes of the Arab Spring uprisings that rocked the region from 2011.

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