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Sudan protesters defy new military regime after dictator Omar al-Bashir ousted

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Sudanese protesters gather near the military headquarters in Khartoum as they continue to rally demanding a civilian body to lead the transition to democracy one day after a military council took control of the country, April 12, 2019. Getty

Sudanese pro-democracy protesters who spent four months on the streets rallying against the country's autocratic president are now defying the military leaders who overthrew Omar al-Bashir the day before. Thousands kept up their sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum overnight and into Friday morning despite a curfew imposed by the army after it arrested al-Bashir.

Organizers of the demonstration have said they'll keep up the campaign. It wasn't clear if the army would move against the protesters.

The mood in the crowd appeared festive, with protesters playing music and chanting, "Down again" -- a reference to Defense Minister Awad Mohammed Ibn Ouf.

Ouf, on a U.S. sanctions list for Darfur genocide along with his former boss al-Bashir, was sworn in on Friday as head of the new military transitional council that has taken charge for the next two years.

Army pledges quick handover

The Sudanese army claimed on Friday that it has no ambition to hold the reins of power for long after ousting al-Bashir, saying it responded to calls from the people against his rule.

Col. Gen. Omar Zein Abedeen told a press conference the military wanted to "guide the country forward" and act as a "tool for change."

Sudanese demonstrators cheer as they drive towards a military vehicle near Defence Ministry in Khartoum
Sudanese demonstrators cheer as they drive towards a military vehicle, after Sudan's Defense Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Auf said that President Omar al-Bashir had been detained "in a safe place" and that a military council would run the country for a two-year transitional period, near Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 11, 2019. REUTERS

Zein Abedeen, a member of the transitional council that took over on Thursday after al-Bashir's arrest, tried to strike a conciliatory tone with the protest movement, saying: "We came for you."

He said al-Bashir was in custody but declined to provide more details. He said al-Bashir's top government members, including the vice president and associates, were also under arrest but again, didn't elaborate.

He pledged the military would stay in power only as long as it was needed.