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Hundreds of anti-coup protesters in Sudan defy security forces

KHARTOUM, Sudan: Hundreds of Sudanese protesters demanding an end to military rule took to the streets of the capital Khartoum and its suburbs for a fourth straight day Sunday, witnesses said. A violent crackdown by the security forces during mass rallies on Thursday killed nine people, the deadliest day for several months in the long running protests against a military takeover last October led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Recent protests have seen crowds burn tyres and barricade roads with bricks, with security forces using live bullets, firing barrages of tear gas canisters and using powerful water cannons, according to medics and the United Nations. Demonstrators demand a restoration of the transition to civilian rule that was launched after the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, which the coup derailed.

“We will continue this sit-in until the coup is overturned, and we have a fully civilian government,” demonstrator Muayyad Mohamed told AFP in central Khartoum. The death toll from protest-related violence has reached 114 since last year’s coup, with the latest fatality recorded Saturday when a demonstrator died from wounds sustained at a June 16 rally, according to pro-democracy medics.

‘We will not compromise’

“We will not compromise until the goals of our revolution are realised,” said Soha, 25, another protester, who gave only her first name. “We are here in the street demanding freedom, peace, justice, a civil state and the return of the military to the barracks.” The coup plunged Sudan further into political and economic turmoil which has seen rising consumer prices and life-threatening food shortages.

On Sunday, witnesses reported a heavy deployment of security forces on the streets of Khartoum, including both army vehicles as well as those of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a feared paramilitary unit commanded by Burhan’s deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo. The RSF incorporated members of the Janjaweed militia, which was accused by rights groups of atrocities during the conflict that erupted in 2003 in the western region of Darfur.

More recently, the RSF has been accused of taking part in crack downs on protesters marching against the army. The international community has condemned the recent bloodshed, with the United Nations’ rights chief urging an independent probe into Thursday’s violence. The UN, African Union and regional bloc IGAD have tried to facilitate talks between the generals and civilians, which the main civilian factions have boycotted. On Friday, the three bodies jointly condemned the violence and “the use of excessive force by security forces and lack of accountability for such actions, despite repeated commitments by authorities”. – AFP

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