Sudanese prepared for nationwide protests against military coup

Opponents of a military coup in Sudan have called for nationwide protests on Saturday to demand the restoration of a civilian-led government so that the country returns to the path of democracy after decades of authoritarian rule.

Thousands of Sudanese have already taken to the streets this week against the coup led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who dissolved Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s cabinet in a coup that has led Western states to freeze hundreds of millions in aid. .

With at least 11 protesters killed in clashes with security forces this week, opponents of the junta fear a full-blown crackdown and more bloodshed.

“The army should go back to its barracks and hand over leadership to Hamdok,” said an activist who identified himself as Mohamed, who plans to protest. “Our demand is a civil country, a democratic country, nothing less than that.”

The United States, which calls for the restoration of the civilian-led government, said the army’s reaction on Saturday will be proof of its intentions.

“We call on the security forces to refrain from all violence against protesters and to fully respect the right of citizens to demonstrate peacefully,” said a senior State Department official, briefing journalists on condition of anonymity.

With the internet and telephone lines restricted by the authorities, opponents of the coup have sought to mobilize for the protest using flyers, SMS messages, graffiti and neighborhood rallies.

Sudanese take part in a march against Rapid Support Forces, whom they blame for a raid on protesters who had camped outside the Defense Ministry during the 2019 revolution, in Khartoum, Sudan, on June 3, 2021 (credit: REUTERS / MOHAMED NURELDIN ABDALLAH). )

The neighborhood resistance committees, active since the uprising against deposed President Omar al-Bashir that began in December 2018, have been central to the organization despite the arrests of key politicians.

Bashir, who led Sudan for nearly three decades, was deposed by the army after months of protests against his government.

Khartoum committee activist Hussam Ibnauf said the date of the protest had been well announced and he was confident of a large turnout.

“Everyone on the street … knows about October 30th. If you know, the rest is easy,” he said.

Now “there is no fear factor,” he said.


Burhan has said he removed the cabinet to avoid a civil war after civilian politicians stoked hostility toward the armed forces.

He says he is still committed to a democratic transition, including the elections in July 2023.

Hamdok, an economist, was initially detained at Burhan’s residence when soldiers detained the government on Monday, but was allowed to return home under surveillance Tuesday.

The US State Department official said that, however, he was still under house arrest and could not resume his work.

The US official said the debt relief of tens of billions of dollars requested by Sudan will not happen as long as the military tries to lead Sudan unilaterally. The United States and the World Bank have already frozen aid to Sudan, where an economic crisis has caused shortages of basic goods, including food and medicine, and where nearly a third of the population is in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

Various mediation efforts have emerged, but there have been no signs of progress toward compromise.

Western states do not seek to engage with the military or mediate any negotiations until the detainees are released and the military shows its commitment to sharing power as set out in a transitional constitutional declaration, a Western diplomat said.

Many Sudanese opponents of the coup oppose a commitment to an army they deeply distrust after several coups since independence in 1956.

Friction had been increasing between the civilian government and the army before the last inauguration. One point of tension had been the search for justice for the alleged atrocities committed in Darfur in the 2000s, when the International Criminal Court asked Sudan to hand over Bashir.

“All those who accept or participate in the dialogue with the military do not have the support of the street,” the Sudanese Professionals Association said in a statement, demanding the total handover of power to civilians.

Magdi El Gizouli, a political analyst, said Burhan’s calculation is that he can suppress the opposition by force if necessary, while having the backing of people who yearn for stability.

While it was important for the military to avoid violence on Saturday, Burhan’s opponents must make realistic demands, he added.

Amnesty International said that the Sudanese authorities must prevent the security forces from using unnecessary force.

“Sudan’s military leaders … must make no mistake about this: the world is watching and will not tolerate further bloodshed,” Amnesty said in a statement.

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