Sudanese security forces fire tear gas at coup protests | Protests News

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Sudanese security forces have fired tear gas as thousands of protesters rallied to an agreement that reinstated the civilian prime minister after a military coup last month, witnesses said.

The protests on Thursday came just days after Army Chief of Staff General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan signed a new power-sharing agreement with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, after releasing him from house arrest.

The move was the biggest concession the military has made since the coup on October 25, but leaves the country’s transition to democracy stuck in crisis. Prior to the takeover, Sudan’s transitional government consisted of the Sovereign Council, a joint military-civilian body led by al-Burhan, and a civilian cabinet led by Hamdok.

Sudan’s pro-democracy movement rejected the agreement because it did not meet their demands for full civilian rule and accused Hamdok of allowing himself to serve as a fig leaf for continued military rule. The military would hand over the leadership of the Sovereign Council to a civilian in the coming months.

Thousands of protesters take to the streets to renew their demand for a civilian government in the Sudanese capital Khartoum [Marwan Ali/AP Photo]

Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who remained deputy head of a new, al-Burhan-led sovereign council formed after the coup, told Al Jazeera that the military takeover followed long discussions between political parties that did not yield results.

“What happened on October 25 was the ultimate result of a long process since change began in Sudan. During the process, many discussions took place and many initiatives were proposed by various parties,” Dagalo, commonly known as Hemeti, said in an interview.

“The Prime Minister himself proposed two initiatives and during our meetings… we made maximum efforts but we could not achieve a breakthrough. At that time, we were left with three options, the best of which was the move we had made. “

‘Power to the people’

Sudan has struggled with its transition to a democratic government since the military removed longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019, following a mass uprising against three decades of his rule.

Since the coup last month, during which dozens of politicians and activists were arrested, protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets in the largest demonstrations since those ending al-Bashir’s rule.

Protest organizers called Thursday “Martyrs’ Day” to pay tribute to the 42 people killed, according to doctors, in the crackdown on anti-coup protesters.

Sudanese protesters demonstrate in the lively Jabra district of southern Khartoum [Ashraf Shazly/AFP]

Protesters in Khartoum chanted slogans such as “The people want the regime to fall”, while others in the capital’s leftist Omdurman shouted: “Power to the people, a civilian government is the people’s choice”.

Security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Omdurman, as well as in the central state of North Kordofan and in northern Darfur, witnesses said.

Live streams on social media also showed protests in cities such as Port Sudan, Kassala, Wad Madani and El Geneina.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, who reports from Khartoum, said protesters were angry “at what they say was a betrayal by the prime minister because he agreed to negotiate and sign a deal with the military.

“Since taking power, people have demanded that the military completely abandon politics and hand over power to a complete civilian government, restore Hamdok’s position, release all political prisoners but also have no role in the day – to – day affairs of the country,” Morgan said.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that led the uprising that culminated in al-Bashir’s removal, had called for demonstrations and promised to continue protesting until “the corrupt military junta is convicted and prosecuted for its crimes.”

The agreement that Hamdok signed with the military on Sunday represents an independent, technocratic cabinet that will be led by the prime minister until new elections are held.

However, the government would still be under military supervision. Hamdok said he would have the power to appoint ministers.

The agreement also means that all political prisoners arrested after the coup will be released. So far, several ministers and politicians have been released. The number of people still in custody is still unknown.

On Wednesday, Hamdok told a local Sudanese television channel that if not everyone is released, “the deal will be useless.”

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