Sudan’s ruling military council has begun talks with organisers of mass protests demanding a civilian-led transition to democracy after the overthrow of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir.

Saturday’s meeting in the capital, Khartoum, came as the new head of the council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, promised to hand over power to a civilian government within two years following consultations with opposition groups.

“I invite all the people of Sudan, including political parties and civil society groups to engage in dialogue,” al-Burhan said in his first televised address to the nation.

The military overthrew al-Bashir on Thursday after almost four months of protests calling for an end to his nearly 30-year rule. General Awad Ibn Auf initially took over as head of the military council, but he resigned just a day later amid a public outcry, with protesters saying he was too close to the deposed leader.

Al-Burhan, who previously served as the general inspector of the armed forces, had met with the protesters in the streets after al-Bashir’s removal and listened to their demands.

The protesters have said they will remain in the streets until a civilian transitional government, as outlined in the so-called Declaration of Freedom and Change signed by various political and professional groups in January, is formed.

They fear the military, which is dominated by al-Bashir loyalists, will rule indefinitely or hand power to one of its own.

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