KHARTOUM: Sudanese security forces yesterday 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 Sunday 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”, protesters chanted, calling “no, no to military rule”, and demanding a “civilian government”.
Nationwide anti-coup protests have occurred since the Oct 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 tires 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 yesterday.
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.
Yesterday’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 tires. “Security forces later dispersed the protest by firing tear gas and began removing the barricades,” said protester Mosab Abdalla.
Earlier yesterday, 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 have been detained, according to the SPA.
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. Meanwhile, 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 Thursday, the military released four civilian members of the government. But other key officials are still under guard and, on that same day, security forces arrested other civilian leaders after they met with UN Special Representative for Sudan Volker Perthes. “We call upon the military leadership to cease arresting politicians and activists and to stop committing human rights violations,” Perthes said afterwards. – AFP