Hundreds in Sudan continue protests against military rule
Hundreds of Sudanese protesters demanding an end to military rule took to the streets of the capital Khartoum and its suburbs on Sunday for the fourth day in a row, witnesses said.
A violent crackdown by security forces during mass demonstrations on Thursday killed nine people, according to medics, the deadliest day in months in the long-running protests against a military takeover in October last year led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
During recent protests, according to medics and the United Nations, crowds burned tires and blocked roads with stones, with security forces using live bullets, firing barrages of tear gas cannons and using high-powered water cannons.
Protesters are demanding a return to the transition to civilian rule launched after the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who was derailed by the coup.
“We will continue this sit-in until the coup is overturned and we have a full civilian government,” protester Muayyad Mohamed told AFP in central Khartoum.
The death toll from protest-related violence has reached 114 since last year’s coup, with the latest fatality recorded on Saturday when a protester died of injuries sustained during a rally on June 16, according to pro-democracy medics.
‘We will not make any compromises’
“We will not compromise until the goals of our revolution are achieved,” said Soha, 25, another protester, who only mentioned her first name. “We are here on the streets demanding freedom, peace, justice, civil status and the return of the army to barracks.”
The coup plunged Sudan further into political and economic turmoil that pushed consumer prices up and led to life-threatening food shortages.
On Sunday, witnesses reported a heavy deployment of security forces, both military vehicles and those of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a feared paramilitary unit commanded by Burhan’s deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, on the streets of Khartoum.
The RSF included members of the Janjaweed militia, accused by human rights groups of atrocities during the 2003 conflict that broke out in the western region of Darfur. More recently, the RSF has been accused of participating in repression against protesters who marched against the military.
The international community has condemned the recent bloodshed, with the UN rights chief pushing for an independent inquiry into Thursday’s violence.
The UN, the African Union and the regional bloc IGAD have tried to facilitate dialogue between the generals and the civilians, which the main civilian factions have boycotted.
On Friday, the three agencies jointly condemned the violence and “the use of excessive force by security forces and the lack of responsibility for such actions, despite repeated assurances from the authorities”.
In the troubled region of Darfur, which has seen a wave of violence recently, General Daglo — known as Hemeti — called on “all political forces, especially the young, to come to the dialogue table on Sunday”.
“Dialogue is the only way to ensure stability in our country,” he said at a ceremony where 2,000 ex-rebels completed their training to join the Sudanese security forces.
The integration of former rebel fighters into the Sudanese military and police was part of a 2020 peace deal with rebel groups involved in decades of civil conflict, including in Darfur.
The first of its kind, the cohort “will face the chaos in Darfur,” Daglo said.
Hundreds have been killed in recent months in Darfur, in a renewed spike of violence caused by disputes, mainly over land, livestock and access to water and grazing.