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Anti-junta protests hit Sudan again on key coup anniversary

The file photo shows a protest in Sudan.

Pro-democracy activists in Sudan have held protests against the military rule.

On Thursday, protesters chanted ‘Soldiers back to barracks!’ and ‘The people want civilian rule!’ as well as chants calling for the dissolution of the notorious Janjaweed militia. Witnesses have reported a large military presence on the streets of the capital Khartoum since Wednesday.

Troops blocked off the Nile bridges linking the city to its suburbs, Omdurman and North Khartoum. Armored vehicles blocked access to the presidential palace.

Security forces fired tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators in Omdurman and at Port Sudan on the eastern coast.

Marches were also reported in Wad Madani and in the violence-wracked Darfur region. In anticipation of demonstrations, authorities had declared Thursday a non-working day.

April 6 marks the anniversary of uprisings in 1985 and 2019 that ended up in the ouster of two leaders who had seized power in coups.

Accused of committing war crimes in Darfur in 2003, the Janjaweed were run by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the second in command behind Sudan's military ruler Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Sudan is still ruled by Burhan, the military leader who seized power in an October 2021 coup, aborting the transition to civilian rule agreed after the 2019 overthrow of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir.

A new delay to the signing of a deal to restore the transition, which had been rescheduled for Thursday, prompted the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) to call for nationwide protests instead.

The FFC urged Sudanese people to demonstrate after several high-ranking officials from the Bashir era found roles in the current administration.

Cracks have emerged within the military over security reforms proposed as part of the deal with the FFC. The sticking point has been the integration into the regular army of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Burhan's deputy Daglo.

The two have been at loggerheads over the timetable for the RSF's integration. Created in 2013, the RSF emerged from the Janjaweed that Bashir unleashed a decade earlier against non-Arab ethnic groups in the western region of Darfur. The militia has since been accused of war crimes.

The worsening state of Sudan's economy has also put pressure on all sides to reach a deal.

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