Sudan security forces fire tear gas against anti-coup protests
Sudanese security forces on Sunday fired tear gas at multiple anti-coup rallies, with protesters in several cities joining a call for two-days of civil disobedience against last month’s military takeover.
Hundreds of anti-coup protesters rallied in the capital Khartoum, as well as in its twin city of Omdurman, Wad Madni to the south, and the northern city of Atbara.
“The authority belongs to the people,” they chanted and “no, no to military rule” as they demanded a “civilian government”.
Nationwide anti-coup protests have occurred since the October 25 power grab by the army, but have been met by a deadly crackdown.
At least 14 demonstrators have been killed and about 300 wounded, according to the independent Central Committee of Sudan’s Doctors.
“Protesters barricaded the streets, set car tyres ablaze, called out against the military rule, and chanted that civilian government is the people’s choice,” said Hoda Othman, who witnessed protests in Omdurman.
Almost two weeks ago Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dissolved the government, as well as the ruling joint military-civilian Sovereign Council that was supposed to lead the country toward full civilian rule.
Burhan also declared a state of emergency and detained Sudan’s civilian leadership.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was briefly detained, but later placed under effective house arrest.
– Burning barricades –
Sunday’s rallies followed calls for two-days of civil disobedience made by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), an umbrella of unions which were also instrumental in the protests which led to the ouster of longtime strongman Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
“The Sudanese people have rejected the military coup,” the SPA said, vowing “no negotiation, no partnership”.
The SPA’s appeals for the civil disobedience were circulated via text messages, to bypass internet outages in place since the putsch.
In Khartoum’s eastern Burri district, protesters built burning barricades of tyres.
“Security forces later dispersed the protest by firing tear gas and began removing the barricades,” said protester Mosab Abdalla.
“We will continue to fight until the government is handed over to civilians,” said another protester, Asser Ahmed.
Earlier on Sunday, dozens of teachers also rallied against the army outside the education ministry.
“Police came and fired tear gas at us, though we were simply standing on the streets and carrying banners,” said geography teacher Mohamed al-Amin.
There were no confirmed reports of casualties but about 87 teachers were detained, according to the SPA.
Meanwhile, three ex-rebel leaders who signed a landmark 2020 peace deal with the Sudanese government condemned the coup in a statement.
“The Sudanese Revolutionary Front reiterates its stance against the coup… and calls for the release of all detainees without condition,” the statement by Malik Agar, Al-Hady Idris, and Al-Taher Hagar said.
Following the peace deal, the three became members of Sudan’s now-ousted sovereign council.
– Universities suspend classes –
The teachers’ rally came after the military leadership replaced heads of department at the education ministry, as part of sweeping changes it made in multiple sectors.
“The protest rejects the return of remnants of the old regime” linked to now jailed ex-resident Bashir, the teachers’ union said.
Classes in two of Sudan’s main universities have been suspended indefinitely.
The University of Khartoum “denounced the military coup” and decried attacks on students by armed men on October 25, the day of the putsch.
The Red Sea University, in the eastern city of Port Sudan, said Sunday it had suspended classes for “students’ safety”.
The military takeover sparked international condemnation, including punitive aid cuts and demands for a swift return to civilian rule.
Burhan insists it “was not a coup” but a move to “rectify the course of the transition.”
On Sunday, a high-level Arab League delegation held separate talks with Burhan and Hamdok on “the importance of the partnership between the military and civilians” and ways to “resolve the disagreements”.
On Thursday, the military released four civilian members of the government but key officials are still detained.
© Agence France-Presse