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Tens of thousands pour into streets, protest deal between PM, junta in Sudan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Sudanese protesters gather in Port Sudan in the country's northeast along the Red Sea, on November 25, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Tens of thousands of people have rallied again across Sudan to protest a deal between military leaders and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was deposed for several weeks in a military coup last month.

Protest rallies were held Thursday in capital Khartoum and other cities, including the capital’s twin city Omdurman, with demonstrators chanting “the people want the downfall of the regime” and "the army back to the barracks!”

They also called for justice for “martyrs” killed in earlier demonstrations.

Security forces fired tear gas canisters to disperse large crowds of protesters in Khartoum, Omdurman, the central state of North Kordofan, and in North Darfur, witnesses said.

More than two years ago, massive anti-government demonstrations, mostly over deteriorating economic problems, hit Sudan where protesters, mostly the youth, demanded the resignation of then president Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir was ultimately deposed through a military coup following months of protests in April 2019, after ruling over the country for three decades. In August the same year, a governing council comprised of civilian and military leaders was founded to run the country.

The transitional civilian-military administration, Sudan’s highest executive authority, is tasked with leading the country to free and fair multiparty elections.

Sudan's military chief and de facto leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan staged a coup on October 25 and dissolved the fragile government.

He also detained Hamdok and put him under arrest in a move that infuriated the Sudanese and sparked international outcry, including from the UN Security Council. Other civilian leaders were also held in military detention.

On Sunday, the junta and Hamdok signed a deal, according to which he would continue his career as Sudan’s prime minister, all political prisoners detained during the coup would be released, and a 2019 constitutional declaration would be the basis for a political transition.

The prime minister, according to the deal, will lead a government of technocrats in the course of a political transition expected to last until elections slated for July 2023 and will share power with the military.

A number of civilian leaders, who were detained since the coup, were freed this week but key figures have still remain in detention.

Prominent political parties and the African nation’s powerful protest movement have opposed Hamdok’s deal with the military, with some branding it a betrayal. 

They stress that the army should play no role in politics, denouncing a violent crackdown on anti-military protests over the past month.

Protesters on Thursday closed a main road in the Sahafa neighborhood of Khartoum. Carrying Sudanese flags, they shouted “Burhan you won’t rule. Down with military rule.”

“I initially went out to protest to demand retribution for people killed after the coup, and now I am protesting against the Burhan-Hamdok deal,” one protester said in south Khartoum, stressing that the deal “blocks the way toward a full civilian rule.”

“We don't want the military to play a role in politics,” she added.

Organizers of the rallies had called Thursday as “Martyr’s day”, to pay tribute to the 42 people killed, according to medics, in the brutal crackdown against anti-coup protesters.

Hamdok claimed on Wednesday that he had shared power with the military only to “stop the bloodshed” and to “not squander the gains of the last two years.”

However, about 12 out of 17 ministers from Sudan’s main civilian bloc have called for a full civilian rule. These ministers, who were part of Hamdok’s cabinet before last month’s coup, stepped down on Monday in show of protest to the deal, saying it “legitimizes the coup regime.”

The United Nations, African Union, Western countries as well as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have already welcomed the accord.

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