Sudan's intelligence chief quits; protesters keep up pressure

People chant slogans during a protest outside of the Military headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 13, 2019.
People chant slogans during a protest outside of the Military headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 13, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KHARTOUM • Sudan's security and intelligence chief quit yesterday, state media reported, a day after the defence minister stepped down abruptly as interim leader following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir and protesters kept up demands for change.

Mr Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, known as Salah Gosh, who headed the National Intelligence and Security Service and was once the most influential person in the country after Mr Bashir, was held responsible by protesters for the killing of demonstrators demanding an end to military rule.

Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf stepped down as head of the transitional military council late last Friday after only a day in the post, as protesters demanded faster political change.

The new head of the military council, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdelrahman, accepted Mr Gosh's resignation, state news agency Suna said yesterday.

Lt-Gen Burhan is a military commander believed to be more ready to talk to the protesters.

He was the third-most senior general in the Sudanese armed forces and is little known in public life.

As head of Sudan's ground forces, he oversaw Sudanese troops fighting in the Saudi-led Yemen war and has close ties to senior Gulf military officials.

 
 
 
 

Celebrations erupted on the streets of Khartoum overnight following Mr Ibn Auf's resignation.

Thousands of protesters waved flags and illuminated mobile phones in the darkness and drivers hooted car horns.

People chanted: "The second has fallen!" a reference to Mr Ibn Auf and Mr Bashir, witnesses said.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has been leading protests to demand a civilian government, called for more demonstrations yesterday. "Today, we continue the march to finish the victory for our victorious revolution," the SPA said in a statement.

The military council said on Thursday, it expected a pre-election transition to last two years at most or less if chaos could be avoided.

Mr Bashir, 75, seized power in a 1989 military coup. He had faced 16 weeks of demonstrations brought on by rising food costs, high unemployment and increasing repression during his three decades in power.

The protests escalated last week when thousands of demonstrators, apparently bolstered by change in Algeria, following similar protests, marched towards the defence ministry in central Khartoum to deliver a memorandum demanding the military side with them.

Demonstrators have been camping outside the compound since then to push for a handover of power.

Worshippers packed the streets around the defence ministry for Friday prayers, heeding a call by the SPA to challenge the military council.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 14, 2019, with the headline 'Sudan's intel chief quits; protesters keep up pressure'. Print Edition | Subscribe