Sudanese protesters kill police officer as anti-coup rallies turn violent

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Sudanese anti-coup protesters stabbed a police general to death on Thursday, authorities said, as thousands of people who continued to demonstrate against a military coup in October faced teargas.

Brigadier General Ali Bareema Hamad, “felt a martyr while doing his duty and securing the protests” in the capital Khartoum, according to a police statement on Facebook.

Hamad “was stabbed to death by groups of protesters…in different parts of his body,” police spokesman Idris Abdalla Idris told Sudanese television.

Other police “were seriously injured”, he added.

Hamad is the first reported death among security forces since protests calling for a return to civilian rule began more than two months ago.

A security crackdown left at least 63 people dead and hundreds injured, according to medics, who said many protesters were killed with live ammunition.

Thursday’s rallies converged from several parts of Khartoum and came after a United Nations offer to facilitate talks between rival Sudanese factions received lukewarm support.

The UN push was aimed at resolving the crisis since the October 25 military coup led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the resignation of civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok earlier this month.

Sudan has no government, foreign aid has been suspended and regular protests against the coup – attended by up to tens of thousands of people – are regularly met with a violent response from the authorities.

Protesters also took to the streets in the capital’s twin city, Omdurman, as well as in Port Sudan in the east of the country, witnesses said.

Khartoum protesters converged on the city center chanting, “With all our might, we are moving towards the palace.”

Others shouted: “Burhan is dirty, carried (to power) by the Islamists”, who dominated under the three-decade rule of strongman Omar al-Bashir. He was ousted by his own army in April 2019 after months of mass protests.

In a repeated pattern, security forces fired volleys of tear gas to disperse protesters in Khartoum and Omdurman, witnesses said.

Footage online appears to show protesters throwing rocks and unexploded tear gas canisters at security forces near the presidential palace.

The military takeover derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule following Bashir’s ouster.

Authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition to confront protesters and insist that dozens of members of the security forces have been injured in demonstrations that have often “deviated from the peace”.

‘Unclear’ On Monday, UN special representative Volker Perthes said he was launching “consultations” with political and social actors as well as armed groups and civil society.

The UN push received a mixed response.

“We do not accept this initiative at all,” said Awad Saleh, a 62-year-old protester.

“We don’t know what points this constitutes and therefore for us it is insufficient.”

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an independent trade union confederation that was instrumental in organizing the protests, said it completely rejected the UN initiative.

The dominant Forces for Freedom and Change faction, the main civilian pro-democracy group, said it would “discuss” the invitation internally before announcing its position.

But spokesman Wagdy Saleh said the FFC rejected “any partnership” with the military.

The ruling Sovereign Council – formed by Burhan in the wake of the coup with himself as president – welcomed the proposed talks, as did the United States, Britain, the United Arab Emirates, the Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

On Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi called for stability in Sudan, saying it “will only be achieved by consensus among all forces”.

Burhan insisted that the military takeover “was not a coup” but was only aimed at “rectifying the course of Sudan’s transition”.

Hamdok resigned as prime minister on January 2, just six weeks after being reinstated following his house arrest following the coup.

In his resignation speech, Hamdok warned that Sudan now stood at a “dangerous crossroads threatening its very survival”.

(AFP)

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