Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir retired as commander-in-chief of the army, state media said on Monday, in what sources said was a procedural move before the first multi-party elections in 24 years.
"President Omar Hassan al-Bashir today issued a decree retiring (himself as) the commander-in-chief of the armed forces," state news agency SUNA said. It mentioned no replacement.
Official nominations for the April elections will begin on Tuesday and analysts have said Bashir was trying to distance himself from his military past before his nomination by the dominant National Congress Party (NCP).
"This decree and the timing of it can be read in the context of his nomination expected tomorrow for the presidential elections," one source in the presidency told Reuters.
Another added: "This is only because of the elections -- it is just a procedure."
Elections to parliament and state governorships will be held at the same time as the presidential vote.
The deputy head of Sudan's elections commission said there was no requirement in the election law for Bashir to resign his military post.
Opposition Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi belittled the move: "He has already pretty much delegated this job to his defense minister," he told Reuters.
"His people close to him are very much so loyal and so close to him... that he will just appoint one of them as the chief and it won't matter much," added Turabi, who split from Bashir's party in 1999/2000.