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KHARTOUM: Sudanese protesters demanded new military rulers set up a civilian government as the foreign ministry called on Sunday for backing from the international community to help the country’s “democratic transition”.

Thousands remained encamped outside Khartoum’s army headquarters overnight to keep up pressure on a military council that took power after ousting veteran leader Omar al-Bashir on Thursday. A 10-member delegation representing the protesters delivered their demands during talks with the council late on Saturday, according to a statement by the Alliance for Freedom and Change umbrella group spearheading the rallies.

“We will continue... our sit-in until all our demands are met,” including the formation of a fully civilian government, said one of the alliance’s leaders, Omar al-Degier.

Later the military council met with political parties and urged them to agree on an “independent figure” to be the country’s prime minister, a correspondent present at the meeting said.

“We want to set up a civilian state based on freedom, justice and democracy,” a member of the military council Lieutenant General Yasser al-Ata told several political parties, urging them to agree on the figures to sit in civilian government. The protesters have insisted that civilian representatives must join the military council, and demanded that a fully civilian government be set up to run day-to-day affairs.

Meanwhile,the foreign ministry urged the international community to back the military council “to achieve the Sudanese goal of democratic transition,” it said in a statement.

The council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is “committed to having a complete civilian government and the role of the council will be to maintain the sovereignty of the country”, it added.

Talks between protest leaders and Sudan’s new rulers were followed by a meeting between Washington’s top envoy to Khartoum, Steven Koutsis, and the military council’s deputy.

Mohammad Hamdan Daglo, widely known as Himeidti, told Koutsis “about the measures taken by the military council to preserve the security and stability of the country,” the official SUNA news agency reported.

Himeidti is a field commander for the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) counter-insurgency unit, which rights groups have accused of abuses in the war-torn Darfur region.

On Saturday, the military council’s new chief General Burhan vowed to dismantle Bashir’s regime, lifting a night-time curfew with immediate effect.

He also pledged that individuals implicated in killing protesters would face justice and that protesters detained under a state of emergency imposed by Bashir during his final weeks in power would be freed.

Burhan took the oath of office on Friday after his predecessor General Awad Ibn Ouf stepped down little more than 24 hours after ousting Bashir.

Tens of thousands of people have massed non-stop outside the army headquarters since April 6, initially to urge the military to back their demand that Bashir be removed.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2019