Police and anti-government protesters clash in Khartoum

Supporters of Sudan's military seek to expand sit-in protest in capital as political crisis continues

An imam gives the sermon following Friday prayers performed by pro-military protesters in front of the Republican Palace. AFP

Police used tear gas on Sunday to push back anti-government demonstrators who tried to expand the area of their week-long sit-in protest in Sudan's capital Khartoum, witnesses said.

They said the protesters pushed deeper into the heart of the capital early in the morning, closing several main roads and a bridge over the Blue Nile.

Their actions created long traffic jams on the first day of the business week after a long weekend.

There were no reports immediately available on injuries or arrests.

Sudan's military leader Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan is showing signs of political ambitions. AFP

The protesters belong to splinter factions that broke away from the Forces of Freedom and Change, a pro-democracy alliance that orchestrated an uprising against dictator Omar Al Bashir in 2018-19.

It went on to become the power base and political patron of the civilian-led government, handpicking Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his Cabinet members.

The sit-in outside the Republican Palace – historically the seat of the head of state – embodies tensions between the military and the government.

Generals want the current government replaced with one they claim would be more representative.

But FFC leaders contend that the generals want a government that would allow the military to be the only source of authority.

Sunday’s attempt to expand the sit-in area came after hundreds of thousands of FCC supporters took to the streets in Khartoum and across Sudan on Thursday to demand the resignation Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan.

The army chief is head of the Sovereign Council that serves as a collective presidency made up of civilians and generals.

Gen Al Burhan, who has been showing signs of political ambitions, is scheduled to make way for a civilian chairman of the council this year.

This handover is provided for in a power-sharing charter signed by FFC leaders and the military in August 2019.

But the two sides dispute the date of the handover, and the Justice Ministry has been asked to arbitrate.

Senior US diplomat Jeffrey Feltman is currently in Khartoum to try to defuse tension between the two sides and salvage the country’s transition to democracy after Al Bashir’s 29-year rule.

He met separately on Saturday night with Gen Al Burhan and Mr Hamdok before holding a meeting with both leaders.

The US embassy in Khartoum said Mr Feltman emphasised Washington’s support for Sudan’s transition to civilian and democratic rule.

Updated: October 24th 2021, 12:04 PM