The leader of Sudan’s transitional government is stepping down just a day after the country’s military seized power.
Defence minister General Awad Ibn Ouf named General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, general inspector of the armed forces, as his successor as head of the transitional council.
Mr Ibn Ouf said: “I, the head of the military council, announce I am giving up the post,” explaining he took the decision to preserve the unity of the armed forces.
Earlier, an army spokesman said it will not extradite deposed president Omar al-Bashir to The Hague to face war crimes charges, as it would be “an ugly mark on Sudan”.
In a wide-ranging news conference in the capital Khartoum, Colonel General Omar Zein Abedeen defended Thursday’s ousting of Mr al-Bashir, who had ruled the north African country for 30 years.
“This was not a coup”, but a “tool of change,” he said.
Mr al-Bashir, 75, is facing an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court in The Hague over alleged genocide for his campaign against insurgents in Darfur.
Up to 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million driven from their homes by militias he backed from 2003 in what has become known as this century’s first genocide.
To hand over al-Bashir would be “an ugly mark on Sudan … even rebels carrying weapons, we won’t extradite them”, said Col Gen Zein Abedeen, who has been tasked by the military to lead a political dialogue.
In a briefing broadcast on state TV and flanked by other uniformed officers, Mr Abedeen also said the military will not spend more than two years in power.
In a message apparently aimed at protesters camped outside the city’s military headquarters in their thousands, he added: “We came … to guide the country forward”.
The Colonel General promised the army would stay on only as long as it is needed, or for a maximum of two years.
Despite his comments, pro-democracy protesters, who spent four months on the streets rallying against al-Bashir, continued their campaign for a civilian government.
Demonstrators have defied the military, which imposed a state of emergency and a night-time curfew after it arrested al-Bashir.
As the number of people at the sit-in grew during the afternoon, Abdelhamid Ahmed, a 24-year-old doctor, said: “We do not reject a military council in principle, but we reject these people because they are from Bashir’s regime.”
The military spokesman vowed that the military council now running the country would not interfere with a civilian government, but insisted the defence and interior ministries would be under the council’s control.