Khartoum: Sudan`s Vice-President Ali Osman Taha, a key figure behind the Islamist-backed coup 24 years ago, has resigned to pave the way for a new government, President Omar al-Bashir said.
"Ali Osman will voluntarily step down", as he did in 2005 following the signing of a peace agreement that ended 22 years of civil war, Bashir was quoted by the official SUNA news agency as saying yesterday.
Taha "is the spearhead and the leader of change in the formation of a new cabinet," Bashir said without elaborating.
The president hinted in mid-November that a wide-ranging government shakeup was imminent.
Last week he dismissed his cabinet ministers pending appointment of a new administration at a date which has not been announced.
Critics of Bashir`s regime have become increasingly vocal since the government slashed fuel subsidies in September, leading to the worst urban unrest of his rule.
Security forces are believed to have killed more than 200 demonstrators, Amnesty International said, but the government has given a toll of less than half that.
Analysts said the spontaneous protests pointed to an urgent need for change by the Arab-dominated regime grappling with ethnic rebellions in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, dissension within its own ranks, economic crisis and international isolation.
Bashir has since talked of "reform", and repeated a call for a dialogue with all political parties, including armed rebels.
Taha was considered the "first" of two vice-presidents in Bashir`s administration.