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No letup in Sudan demos as anti-coup protesters march on

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)
Demonstrators in Sudan’s Khartoum North hold pictures of protesters killed in earlier demonstrations, during a march calling for civilian rule, February 21, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of people across Sudan have once again protested against the October 2021 military coup as they braved tear gas, calling for a civilian rule and justice for dozens of people killed during anti-junta protests.

On Monday, security forces fired tear gas canisters at hundreds of protesters in capital Khartoum who tried to rally outside the presidential palace, the seat of the ruling Sovereign Council.

In the city of Wad Madani, south of the capital, demonstrators called on the military “to go back to the barracks,” and in the eastern state of Gedaref they chanted, “Civilian is the people's choice.”

Protesters also rallied outside a government building in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan but security forces blocked their march with tear gas. Separately, young demonstrators in the eastern border state of Kassala also chanted, “No, no to military rule” as they headed toward a military base in the city.

In 2019, massive anti-government demonstrations hit Sudan. The main grievance was economic woes. The protesters, youths for a large part, demanded resignation of then President Omar al-Bashir, who 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, Sudan's military chief and de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan staged a coup on October 25, 2021 and dissolved the fragile government and Abdalla Hamdok, the then prime minister, was detained and put under house arrest.

The military takeover 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 and on November 21 signed a power-sharing deal with the Burhan-led 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.

The coup, however, triggered new waves of ongoing protests across the country, demanding an all-civilian rule with no participation of the military.

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

More than 80 people have been killed, many of them shot dead, during the security crackdown on the anti-coup protests that erupted since October, medical sources said, noting that hundreds more were wounded. The latest fatality came on Sunday.

“The number of people detained has exceeded 200,” according to a statement by a group of anti-coup lawyers, which confirmed that some had been ordered released, adding that multiple political figures and pro-democracy activists are among those who have been detained.

Monday’s anti-coup rallies came just a day after United Nations human rights expert Adama Dieng arrived on his first official visit to Sudan. He is scheduled to meet with senior Sudanese government officials, diplomats, rights defenders and others.

The African country, home to 45 million people, is also dealing with a severe economic crisis and an inflation reaching 400 percent.

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