Protests in Sudan continue after deadliest day since military coup

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Street clashes rocked the Sudanese capital again on Thursday, a day after security forces shot dead 15 protesters in the bloodiest day since the army took power on October 25.

Wednesday’s killings were condemned by UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who said “it is a shame that live ammunition was used again yesterday against protesters.”

Since Thursday morning, police have fired tear gas to disperse dozens of anti-coup protesters who had remained in the streets of northern Khartoum overnight, witnesses said, braving an intensification of the crackdown that has aroused international condemnation.

Police demolished the makeshift barricades the protesters erected the day before.

Later that day, dozens of protesters returned to rebuild them and police again fired tear gas in an attempt to clear the streets, witnesses said.

“The protesters responded by throwing stones at the police,” one said.

On October 25, Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan – the de facto leader of Sudan since the ouster in April 2019 of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir – arrested civilian leaders and declared a state of death. ’emergency.

The move upended Sudan’s fragile transition to full-fledged civilian rule, drawing international condemnation and a flurry of punitive measures and aid cuts.

“We condemn the violence against peaceful protesters and call for respect and protection of human rights in Sudan,” the US State Department’s Office of African Affairs said on Twitter.

Appeal to the international community

The UN special rapporteur on freedom of association, Clément Voule, said he had “received alarming reports of increased use of lethal force by the military against peaceful protesters.”

He called on the international community to “put pressure on Sudan to immediately stop the repression against civilians and respect their rights”.

Burhan insists that the military’s decision “was not a coup” but a step to “rectify the course of the transition” to civilian rule.

Thousands of people took to the streets in Khartoum and other cities on Wednesday, but faced the deadliest crackdown since the coup.

At least 15 people have been killed, most in northern Khartoum, doctors said, bringing the toll since the coup to 39 dead.

Police said they recorded only one death among protesters in northern Khartoum. 30 others had had breathing difficulties from inhaling tear gas.

They said they did not fire any live bullets and only used “minimal force”, even though 89 officers were injured, some seriously.

The latest protests were staged despite an almost total shutdown of internet services and disruption of telephone lines across Sudan.

As of Thursday morning, the telephone lines had been reestablished but Internet services remained largely cut off.

Bridges connecting Khartoum to neighboring towns have reopened and traffic has returned to many streets in the capital.

Last week, Burhan formed a new Sovereign Council, the highest transitional authority, with himself as military leader and figures and ex-rebel leaders keeping their posts.

He replaced members of the Forces for Freedom and Change, the main Sudanese civilian bloc, with little-known figures.

Call for “peaceful demonstrations”

The FFC is an umbrella alliance that spearheaded the protests that led to Bashir’s ouster in 2019, and its dominant faction has supported the anti-coup protests in recent weeks.

Sudan’s largest political faction, the Umma Party, condemned the use of force by the security forces and called for continued peaceful protests “until the coup is overturned” and those who committed crimes against the population were held accountable.

Since the coup, Burhan has removed clauses referring to the FFC from the 2019 power-sharing agreement between the military and civilians in the bloc.

This week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee met with generals and the fallen civilian government in a bid to find a way out of the crisis.

Phee called for the reinstatement of ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who is effectively under house arrest.

Burhan pledged to hold elections scheduled for 2023, reminding Phee on Tuesday that his actions were aimed at “correcting the trajectory of the revolution.”

(AFP)

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