Sudan protesters demand new coup as crisis deepens

Monday, October 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Former President Omar al-Bashir. Photo/PD/File

Khartoum, Sunday

Opponents of Sudan’s transition to democracy took to the streets of Khartoum on Saturday to call on the army to take control of the country.

Several thousand demonstrators gathered outside the presidential palace as the country’s political crisis deepens.

Military and civilian groups have been sharing power since the toppling of President Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

However, tensions have grown since a coup attempt attributed to followers of Bashir was foiled in September.

Since then, military leaders have been demanding reforms to the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition, a civilian alliance which led the anti-Bashir protests and formed a key part of the transitional government. The armed forces have also called for the replacement of the cabinet.

However, civilian leaders say that the demands are part of a power grab from the armed forces.

On Saturday, pro-military demonstrators chanted “down with the hunger government” and called for General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the armed forces and Sudan’s joint military-civilian Sovereign Council, to instigate a coup and seize control of the country.

“We need a military government, the current government has failed to bring us justice and equality,” one protester told AFP.

Unlike previous demonstrations in the country, protesters were allowed to reach the gates of the presidential palace and there was little police presence.

Pro-government rally

Pro-government protesters have also called a rally on Thursday in response to Saturday’s demonstrations.

On Friday, Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister, Abdallah Hamdok, unveiled a plan to tackle what he called the country’s “worst and most dangerous” political crisis in its two-year transition.

“I am not neutral or a mediator in this conflict. My clear and firm position is complete alignment to the civilian democratic transition,” he said.

Hamdok was sworn in as Prime Minister in August 2019, after mass protests saw the military step in and end the 30-year-rule of Omar al-Bashir in April.

Sudan has been in the midst of a political crisis since long-serving al-Bashir was overthrown in April.

The military and pro-democracy movement have been locked in a tussle for power that has led to mass protests and killings.

The security forces have used brute force to strengthen the position of the generals.

In the worst such case, dozens of people were killed - and some had their bodies thrown into the River Nile - in a crackdown on protesters in the capital, Khartoum on June 3.

But tens of thousands of protesters returned to the streets a few weeks later to stage the biggest demonstration since Mr Bashir’s overthrow.

This forced the junta to resume talks on a power-sharing government and an agreement has now been reached. - BBC

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