Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated this Saturday in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and in other cities across the country to show their opposition to the coup carried out by the army last Monday and demand that power be handed over to a civilian government to start a new democratic transition. At least three people, according to the Central Committee of Physicians, were killed in protests by gunfire fired by forces loyal to the military. The international community had urged the military not to resort to violence to dissolve massive mobilizations.
The coup leader, General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, announced on Monday the military takeover in Sudan and the dissolution of the main organs of the transition that began in 2019 shortly after the fall of former dictator Omar al Bashir. It also declared a state of emergency and suspended key articles of the document that served as the constitution for the transition, which is now hanging by a thread. Several senior civil servants of the Executive, including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, and leaders of related parties and organizations have been imprisoned since the military coup, which was condemned by the majority of the international community, including the UN Security Council. Last Thursday, the body called for the restoration of the transitional civil government and the release of the detainees.
This Saturday’s demonstrations were called by neighborhood resistance committees and the Sudan Professionals Association, which were instrumental in structuring the mobilizations first against Al Bashir and now against the coup. Their demands include the dissolution of the military council that took power in the country, its handing over to civilians and accountability. They also demand the restructuring of military, intelligence and security forces, the dismantling of paramilitary groups and an end to foreign interference.
“People in the streets were very clear about what they want: a civil and democratic state, and that what happened on the 25th was a military coup,” says Sarah Abdulgaleel, one of the spokespersons for the Sudan Professionals Association.
Videos and images posted on social media showed a flood of people in the streets of Khartoum waving the national flag, chanting slogans in favor of civil and anti-military transition, and carrying banners against allies of generals, such as Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al Sisi. Since the day of the military uprising, popular protests have taken place uninterruptedly, but this Saturday’s were the most popular and the first that sought to gather crowds.
The military and paramilitary forces aligned with the coup generals once again resorted to violence to try to crush the peaceful marches. At least in the city of Omdurman, located opposite Khartoum, they attacked demonstrators with lethal ammunition and prevented the wounded from being taken to hospital, according to the Sudanese Archive’s Professional Association of Sudan and documented by the Sudanese Archive platform. Sudan’s Central Committee of Physicians confirmed the deaths of three protesters late in the afternoon, bringing the total death toll since Monday to at least a dozen and more than 200 wounded. The crackdown on protests came amid a severe interruption of internet and telephone signal imposed in the country since Monday, according to the monitoring organization NetBlocks.
Civil society and the office of the deposed government spokesperson warned that the blackout is used to cover up violations of rights that could constitute crimes against humanity. The Central Committee of Physicians also registered several injuries in the east of the country. “We saw the photos [dos mortos], very traumatic, of young people in their 20s, and bullets in the face and chest, which shows that they shot to kill,” observes Abdulgaleel.
The UN Special Envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, met on Friday with the leader of the feared paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, to urge him to allow the protests. On Thursday, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, who like the World Bank had already suspended financial aid to Sudan, also asked the Sudanese military authorities to tolerate the demonstrations.
Perthes also indicated that he is coordinating mediation attempts he did not detail to facilitate dialogue between the parties in order to find a way out of the Sudan crisis. prime minister in the coming days, a measure rejected by the majority. Hamdok, who is detained in his home, rejected the coup general’s proposals to reinstate him to legitimize the coup, and the country’s main civil organizations have declared that they will not accept any association or negotiation with the generals. On Saturday night, the Sudan Professionals Association said it would organize with other revolutionary forces to define its own proposal to open a new phase in the country.
“This is the same regime we were fighting against in 2018, it’s a counterrevolution,” says Abdulgaleel. “We are fighting those who want to return to power, and they are very aggressive, more than before, because they know this is their last chance.”
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