Thousands rally in Sudan against coup, teargas fired

KHARTOUM-Thousands protested in Sudan's capital Wednesday against last month's coup, chanting "no to military power" in defiance of a crackdown that has already claimed 24 lives.

Several rallies broke out across Khartoum, even though telephone lines were cut and internet services have been disrupted since the October 25 putsch, AFP journalists reported.

Security forces fired tear gas on the protesters, causing several injuries, witnesses said.

Ahead of the protests, Sudanese authorities announced the closure of four out of 10 bridges linking the capital, Khartoum, with the cities of Bahri and Omdurman, Sudanese television reported.

Al Jazeera's Hiba Morgan said the closures are aimed to prevent protesters from coming to the capital and joining protests.

"Many of them are still demanding a return to civilian rule," she said, speaking from Khartoum. "They say they want to return to a democratic process that was underway before the army took over in late October."

Protesters are also demanding that the army should not take up any role in politics, Morgan added.

The renewed protests came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Africans to watch out for rising threats to democracy as he began a three-nation tour of the continent in Kenya.

"We have seen over the last decade or so what some call a democratic recession," Blinken said in Nairobi.

The United States has suspended some $700m in assistance to Sudan in response to the coup, which halted a democratic transition that followed the 2019 toppling of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan's top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan declared a state of emergency on October 25, dissolved the government and detained the civilian leadership. Last week, the Sudanese general appointed a new governing Sovereign Council, replacing the country's transitional government comprising of civilian and military figures formed following the removal of Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

"This has angered people who say that the army is trying to dig its feet in this process and making it very hard to transition," Morgan said.

Al Jazeera's correspondent Resul Serdar said the protesters are demanding the army to comply with the constitutional declaration which was signed in 2019.

"They are also asking the army to release the political prisoners in the country," Serdar said, also speaking from Khartoum.

"The concern is that if the security forces increase their interferences, that could lead to another violent confrontation today. For now, there are at least seven districts that are hosting mass protests."

The death toll from Sudan's anti-coup protests at the weekend rose to eight, medics said, bringing the total number of those killed since last month's military takeover to at least 23.

Three teenagers were among those who lost their lives during the latest mass protests on Saturday, which were met with the deadliest crackdown since the October 25 coup.

International condemnation

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, an independent union of medics, named all eight protesters killed, including 13-year-old Remaaz Hatim al-Atta, who was shot in the head in front of her family's home in Khartoum, and Omar Adam who was shot in his neck during protests in the capital city.

The military takeover sparked a chorus of international condemnation, including punitive aid cuts, with world powers demanding a swift return to civilian rule.

Demonstrators have rallied since then despite internet outages and disruptions of communication lines, which forced activists to disseminate calls for protests via graffiti and SMS messages.

Since last month's coup, more than 100 government officials and political leaders, along with a large number of demonstrators and activists, have been arrested. The army also placed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok under house arrest at his residence in Khartoum.

Pro-democracy groups have promised to continue protesting until the return of the Sovereign Council, which was formed in 2019 as part of a power-sharing agreement between members of the army and civilians with the task of overseeing Sudan's transition to democracy after a popular uprising led to the removal of longtime ruler al-Bashir.

In an interview with Al Jazeera earlier this month, al-Burhan said he was committed to handing over power to a civilian government, promising not to participate in any government that comes after the transitional period. But last week he announced the formation of a new Sovereign Council and appointed himself as its head.(mr/aje)



WEB: Thousands rally in Sudan against coup, teargas fired
Thousands rally in Sudan against coup, teargas fired
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