Sudan forces fire tear gas to disperse anti-coup protesters

Arab World Materials 26 December 2021 06:08 (UTC +04:00)

Sudanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the capital Khartoum on Saturday as tens of thousands of Sudanese protesters marched across the country to denounce the October military coup, Trend reports citing Al Jazeera.

It is the 10th day of major demonstrations with protests continuing even after Abdallah Hamdok was reinstated as prime minister on November 21. The demonstrators have demanded that the military have no role in government during a transition to free elections.

Protesters took to the streets even as authorities tightened security across the capital, deploying troops and closing all bridges over the Nile River linking Khartoum with its twin city of Omdurman and the district of Bahri, the state-run SUNA news agency reported.

Protesters demanded that soldiers “go back to the barracks” and called for a transition to civilian rule, as others waved flags, beat drums, danced and chanted.

An AFP journalist saw injured people being evacuated by demonstrators.

The Doctors’ Committee, part of the pro-democracy movement, reported that security forces fired tear gas into hospitals, attacking doctors as well as the wounded.

In Khartoum, the marches started in different locations, from where the protesters would converge on the presidential palace. Rallies got underway also in other cities, including Wad Madani and Atbara.

Authorities warned protesters against approaching “sovereign and strategic” sites in central Khartoum – a reference to main government buildings and key institutions.

The city’s Security Committee said Sudanese forces would “deal with chaos and violations”, SUNA reported.

“Departing from peacefulness, approaching and infringing on sovereign and strategic sites in central Khartoum is a violation of the laws,” SUNA reported, citing a provincial security coordination committee.

Reporting from Khartoum, Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall said that a protest coming from the south of Khartoum towards the presidential palace “has been thwarted and dispersed by security forces”.

“Hundreds of people… are unable to reach central Khartoum because roads are completely closed off and there is heavy presence of security forces and police,” said Vall.

“We are expecting another wave [of protests] from the south of Khartoum because that is the only area directly connected with the area where the presidential palace is located,” he added.

Last weekend, security forces violently dispersed demonstrators when they attempted to stage a sit-in near the presidential palace.

At least three protesters were killed and more than 300 were wounded on Sunday.

The UN said there were also allegations of sexual violence, including rape and gang rape by security forces against female protesters.

Ahead of the demonstrations on Saturday, activists reported disruption of internet access on phones in Khartoum, a tactic that had been used by the generals when they seized power on October 25.

Advocacy group NetBlocks said Sudan was experiencing mobile internet disruptions early on Saturday.

“The mechanism appears similar or identical to that used during the October post-coup blackout,” Alp Toker, the group’s director, told The Associated Press.

The government did not comment on the disruptions.

The military and civilian political parties, known as the Forces of Freedom and Change Coalition (FFC), had shared power since Omar al-Bashir’s removal in April 2019.

The October military takeover however upended the fragile transition to democratic rule and led to relentless street demonstrations across Sudan. At least 47 people were killed and hundreds wounded in protests triggered by the coup, according to a tally by a Sudanese medical group.

Civilian parties and neighbourhood resistance committees have since organised several wide scale protests to demand full civilian rule, under the slogan “no negotiation, no partnership, no legitimacy”.

Hamdok, a former UN official seen as the civilian face of Sudan’s transitional government, was reinstated last month amid international pressure in a deal that calls for an independent technocratic Cabinet under military oversight led by him.

That deal, however, was rejected by the pro-democracy movement, which insists that power be handed over to a fully civilian government tasked with leading the transition.

The prime minister is continuing discussions on finding a way out of the political deadlock. He met Friday with leaders of the country’s largest Umma Party, his office said.