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Protesters rally in Sudan to decry coup and arrests

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)
Protesters take part in a march against the military rule in Khartoum, Sudan, on Feb. 7, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

People in Sudan have once again rallied in the streets to protest against October's military coup and a wave of political detentions across the African country.

Hundreds of protesters marched towards the presidential palace in the capital city of Khartoum on Thursday, braving tear gas shots and a heavy security presence.

The power takeover by the military plunged Sudan into political and economic turmoil, drawing international condemnation from across the world.

“We will continue demonstrating in the streets until we bring down military rule and bring back democracy,” said 22-year-old university student Salah Hamid.

Other protests took place across the Nile in the cities of Omdurman and Bahri, and farther away in Gadarif and Sennar.

Most of the protesters in Khartoum say they are opposing a normalization of relations spearheaded by the military with Israel. 

The series of protests, organized by neighborhood resistance committees, have drawn hundreds of thousands of people. About 80 people have been killed and thousands injured in crackdowns, according to a count by a pro-democracy group of medics.

In 2019, massive anti-government demonstrations hit Sudan, mostly over an economic downturn. The protesters demanded resignation of then President Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir was ultimately deposed through a military coup in April that year. In August, a transitional civilian-military administration was founded to run the country. But military chief and de facto leader Burhan staged a coup in October 2021 and dissolved the fragile government.

Abdalla Hamdok, then prime minister, 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.

Hamdok was later released. He signed a power-sharing deal with the junta, according to which the former 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. July 2023 was set as the date for Sudan's first free elections since 1986.

On January 2, Hamdok resigned, leaving the military fully in charge. He said Sudan was at a “dangerous crossroads threatening its very survival.”

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