Sudan tightens security crackdown to disperse anti-coup protesters.

Sudan ProtestsSudan Protests

Thousands of people have rallied in the capital to denounce the October military takeover, which upended Sudan’s planned transition to democratic rule. Sudanese security forces in the capital of Khartoum on Saturday fired tear gas to disperse thousands of demonstrators Protesting against military rule.

Protesters reached the vicinity of the presidential palace for the second time in a week, the headquarters of the military government in control since General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan seized power on October 25.

Waving flags and beating drums, protesters demanded soldiers “go back to the barracks” and called for a transition to civilian rule. Crowds chanted, danced and marched through the streets of Khartoum despite a heavy communications black out and deployment of security forces who later fired tear gas to disperse them.

Security forces had warned protesters against approaching “sovereign and strategic” sites in central Khartoum, referring to government buildings.

Khartoum’s state governor said security forces “will deal with those who break the law and create chaos,” the state-run SUNA news agency reported. Rallies were also taking place in the cities of Wad Madani, Atbara and Omdurman.

The local news agency further confirmed that authorities closed all bridges over the Nile River linking the capital with the city of Omdurman and the district of Bahri.

Saturday marked the 10th day of  major demonstrations since the October coup, which toppled Sudan’s planned transition to democratic rule. Protests have continued even after Abdallah Hamdok was reinstated as prime minister last month.

At least 47 people have died and more than hundreds have been wounded in crackdowns during weeks of demonstrations, according to the independent Doctors’ Committee.

A doctors’ union allied to the protest movement said 178 demonstrators were injured on Saturday, and has accused security forces of using live bullets.

Sudanese authorities, meanwhile, said some 58 police officers had reported injuries during the demonstrations with more than 100 people had been arrested in the capital.

The pro-democracy demonstrations on Saturday saw thousands of protesters approach the presidential palace for the second time in a week, waving flags and chanting slogans against the military. They were met by a heavy security presence, and tear gas was used to disperse the crowds.

Activists planned a series of street protests for Saturday – exactly two months since generals launched their takeover.

Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched through Khartoum demanding civilian rule be restored after the military coup on 25 October. Over 100 people were injured in clashes with police in last week’s protests. The  Security forces were also accused of sexually abusing more than a dozen women and girls.

Coup leader Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has defended October’s military takeover, alleging that the army acted to prevent a civil war because political groups had been inciting civilians against the security forces. He has said he remains committed to the transition to civilian rule, with elections planned for July 2023.

However it is unclear how much power the new civilian government will have, as it will be subject to military oversight. The general has also warned that protests could impede a smooth democratic transition.

Pro-democracy activists accuse the military of stealing the revolution that led to long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir being ousted in 2019.

 

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