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Sudan police fire tear gas as thousands protest

By AFP - Dec 06,2021 - Last updated at Dec 06,2021

Sudanese demonstrators wave flags during a rally in Khartoum Bahri, on Monday, to protest a deal that saw the prime minister reinstated after his ouster in a military coup in October (AFP photo)

KHARTOUM — Sudanese police fired tear gas on Monday as thousands of protesters rallied against the military-dominated government near the presidential palace in Khartoum, witnesses told AFP.

Separately in the country's far-west, an official and medics said close to 50 people had been killed in a flareup of tribal violence.

The Khartoum demonstrators marched from various districts of the capital, many carrying national flags or chanting, "No to military rule" and, "The army might betray you, but the street will never betray you."

Protesters, in the latest of many rallies in recent weeks, set up road barricades with rocks and burning car tyres, the black smoke billowing into the sky.

Following an October 25 coup, previous protests were met by a violent crackdown that left 44 people killed up to November 22, a pro-democracy doctors' union said. Hundreds more were wounded, mostly by bullets.

Sudan's top general, Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, seized power and detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok but, after international condemnation and mass protests, reinstated him in a deal signed on November 21.

Critics lambasted the agreement and pro-democracy activists vowed to maintain pressure on the military-civilian authority.

"Mr Hamdok betrayed the roadmap" of the transition, said Mahmoud Abidine, demonstrating in the centre of Khartoum.

"What happened is a typical example of a military coup d'etat because it was followed by arrests, killings in the street, and against it are only young people asking for freedom, democracy and a civilian regime," he said.

 

Darfur dead 

 

The top general has long insisted the military's move was "not a coup" but a step "to rectify the transition" towards full democracy that started with the 2019 ouster of autocratic president Omar Al Bashir.

Burhan has pledged to lead Sudan to “free and transparent elections” in July 2023.

Hamdok, prime minister in the transitional government, has defended the deal, which he signed after his release from effective house arrest.

He has said he partnered with the military to “stop the bloodshed” that resulted from crackdowns on anti-coup street protests, and so as not to “squander the gains of the last two years”.

But the new transitional council named on November 21 excluded representatives of the main bloc that spearheaded anti-Bashir protests and had been demanding a transfer to full civilian rule.

Rawiya Hamed, another protester, said she joined Monday’s demonstration to “say again that we refuse the agreement between the military and Hamdok”.

The military and paramilitary leaders “don’t care about the country”, she said, a colourful covering on her head.

In West Darfur state, near Chad, at least 46 people died on Saturday and Sunday in violence that escalated after an argument, the state’s Governor Khamis Abdallah told AFP.

The Doctors’ Committee, an independent union, gave a figure of 48 people killed in the Krink area of Darfur by live ammunition.

That brings to around 100 the number of people killed over about three weeks in Sudan’s westernmost region, which has been ravaged by unrest for years.

Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries, has also suffered runaway inflation and embarked on tough economic reforms, including slashing subsidies on petrol and diesel and launching a managed currency float.

Those measures came as part of efforts to secure global debt relief.

But the coup sparked international condemnation and punitive measures by Western governments and the World Bank, imperilling the country’s access to aid and investment.

Thirty per cent of Sudan’s population will need humanitarian aid next year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned in a report Monday, saying the rate is “the highest in a decade”.

It blamed the situation on Khartoum’s economic crisis and the COVID pandemic, floods and disease and the fact Sudan also hosts millions of refugees and internally displaced people.

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