At least four people have been shot dead and hundreds of others wounded after Sudan’s security forces clashed with thousands of anti-coup protesters in the African country’s major cities, including capital Khartoum and Omdurman.
Tens of thousands of anti-coup protesters filled the streets in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman on Thursday, chanting “No to military rule” as they rallied demanding a transition to a civilian government.
They also shouted “The revolution continues,” beating drums and waving flags.
Sudanese troops, police and paramilitary units clashed with protesters with tear gas canisters and live rounds.
The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said four protesters were shot dead by security forces, at least three of them in Omdurman.
The brutal crackdown also injured 235 others, several of them with live bullets, the committee said.
More than two years ago, massive anti-government demonstrations hit Sudan, mostly over economy. The protesters, youths for a large part, demanded the resignation of then President Omar al-Bashir.
Bashir was ultimately deposed through a military coup in April 2019, after ruling over the country for three decades. In August the same year, a transitional civilian-military administration was founded to run the country.
However, a military coup led by Sudan's military chief and de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was staged on October 25 that dissolved the fragile government. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was detained and put under house 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.
The ensuing crackdown against anti-coup protesters has left 49 people dead and hundreds wounded since October 25, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors.
Hamdok was later released and on November 21 signed a power-sharing deal with the Burhan-led junta, according to which Hamdok would continue his career as 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. According to the deal, July 2023 has been set as the date for Sudan's first free elections since 1986.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), however, has completely rejected the deal, lambasting it as being “treacherous”. Pro-democracy SPA is an umbrella of 17 different unions that were instrumental in the months-long demonstrations that led to the ousting of Bashir.
Protest rallies against the coup have continued even after the reinstatement of Hamdok, with demonstrators demanding no military involvement at all in government.
They say the deal has simply given a cloak of legitimacy to the generals, who they accuse of trying to form an autocratic regime like the one led by ousted Bashir.
“Signing with the military was a mistake from the start,” one protester said on Thursday, accusing the generals of being “Bashir's men.”
Anti-coup protesters also on Thursday demanded that soldiers “go back to the barracks”, carrying those injured from inhalation of tear gas.
Similar protests were reported in Madani, south of Khartoum, and the cities of Kassala and Port Sudan in the east.
NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors cybersecurity and the governance of the Internet, said that mobile internet services were cut from mid-morning on Thursday, restricting the ability of protesters to encourage supporters or to broadcast live footage of the demonstrations.
Thursday was the 11th day of major anti-coup rallies since an October 25.
Hamdok has so far defended the deal, saying he partnered with the military in an attempt to “stop the bloodshed” that resulted from crackdown on anti-coup street protests.