Sudanese forces fire tear gas as thousands gather to protest military rule
Sudanese security forces fired tear gas Tuesday at protesters rallying against last month’s military takeover and a subsequent deal that reinstated the prime minister, witnesses said.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the capital Khartoum and marched on the presidential palace, before security forces fired tear gas to disperse them, they said.
“I’m here to demand the fall of military rule,” demonstrator Mohamed Alaaldin told AFP.
Sudan‘s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, seized power and detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on October 25, but after international condemnation and mass protests he reinstated the premier nearly a month later.
Critics however have lambasted the November 21 agreement as “whitewashing” and accused Hamdok of “betrayal”, with pro-democracy activists vowing to maintain pressure on the military-civilian authority.
On Tuesday, security forces were stationed around the palace to prevent demonstrators from approaching.
“No partnership, no negotiation, no legitimacy,” protesters chanted, urging the military “to go back to their barracks”.
At least 43 people have been killed in anti-coup protests since last month, according to medics.
Doctors have accused security forces of using live rounds, but police denied the allegations, saying they only used “minimum force” to disperse protests.
On Tuesday, police forces were seen chasing protesters on streets near the presidential palace with “whips”, witnesses said.
“Severe injuries to the hands have been observed among several protesters,” the independent Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said.
The wounds resulted from attempts by protesters to throw away the “sound bombs” fired by security forces, it added.
‘Clear and decisive response’
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), an umbrella of unions which called for Tuesday’s protests, accused Hamdok and Burhan of seeking to “reproduce the former regime” of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir.
Bashir was ousted and jailed in April 2019 following mass protests.
“Taking to the streets is a clear and decisive response to the putschists’ nonsense,” said the SPA, which was also instrumental in the anti-Bashir protests.
Hamdok, who has been prime minister in the transitional government since 2019, has defended the deal, which he signed after he was released from effective house arrest.
He has said he partnered with the military to “stop the bloodshed” and to “not squander the gains of the last two years”.
The Burhan-Hamdok agreement was welcomed by the United Nations, African Union, and Western countries, as well as Arab powerhouses Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which have strong ties with the Sudanese military.
The military has vowed to release detainees kept in custody since the coup, and several politicians have since been freed.
Burhan has also pledged to lead Sudan to “free and transparent elections” in July 2023.
He has insisted the military’s move “was not a coup” but a step “to rectify the transition”.