Sudan: 15 protesters shot dead in latest anti-military rallies

Khartoum rocked by violence as political crisis deepens following takeover

Security forces killed 15 people and wounded dozens more as thousands rallied on Wednesday in Khartoum against last month’s military takeover, chanting slogans demanding the restoration of the democratic process.

A transitional government was overthrown in a coup on October 25.

The opposition-linked Central Doctors Committee said in addition to those killed, scores were injured.

“The coup forces are using live bullets extensively in separate areas of the capital, injuring dozens, and some are in critical condition,” said the committee, whose casualty figures have proven reliable in the past.

The committee said Wednesday’s deaths took place in Khartoum’s twin cities of Umm Durman and Bahary, where security forces chased injured protesters inside hospitals and arrested them.

Wednesday’s protests came four days after eight protesters were killed and about 200 were injured in similar anti-coup rallies in Khartoum.

The latest violence took the number of protesters killed since the coup to about 30, with international condemnation raining down on the Sudanese military over its excessive use of force despite repeated calls for restraint.

The rallies took place despite telephone lines being cut and an internet outage that began the day of the coup, which are aimed at curbing protest leaders' ability to mobilise, leaving them no choice but to use word of mouth, flyers and graffiti.

Most Nile bridges in the capital were closed off on Wednesday, another measure designed to prevent large gatherings.

“The people choose civilian rule” and “no to military rule”, the protesters chanted on Wednesday.

They also yelled slogans against army chief and coup leader Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, who has since seizing power ordered the arrest of scores of critics, including trade and professional union leaders, journalists, leaders of neighbourhood resistance committees and politicians.

While on a visit to Kenya, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Sudan’s military that the country would only regain accesses to hundreds of millions of dollars of badly needed aid only if they allowed the country's transition to democracy to continue.

“If the military puts this train back on its tracks and does what's necessary, I think the support that has been very strong from the international community can resume,” said Mr Blinken, whose country suspended $700 million in aid to Sudan in protest over the coup.

The World Bank also suspended millions of dollars in project assistance.

Sudan’s democratic transition began after the removal in April 2019 of dictator Omar Al Bashir, whose 29-year rule was arguably the country’s darkest in the post-independence era, with ruinous civil wars in the south and west, devastating economic problems and widespread corruption.

Gen Al Burhan has dismissed the civilian-led government of career UN economist Abdalla Hamdok, whom he placed under house arrest. Several of his Cabinet members have been detained and an indefinite state of emergency has been declared.

The general has insisted that the military’s takeover was not a coup and that it was motivated by the necessity to protect the country from civil war. He also accused politicians of insulting the armed forces and inciting hatred of the army.

Last week, he appointed himself the country’s de facto president at the head of a 14-member Sovereignty Council that brings together generals, rebel leaders and little-known civilians.

He has excluded from the council the Forces of Freedom and Change, a major pro-democracy alliance that had been the military’s partner in the transitional administration and is the political patron of Mr Hamdok’s government.

Gen Al Burhan has vowed to hold free elections in 2023 and declared himself and the military the legitimate guardians of the democratic transition.

Attempts to negotiate a way out of the deepening crisis have stalled, with Gen Al Burhan apparently adamantly against restoring the previous political order.

Molly Phee, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, is leading the latest mediation bid, shuttling between the generals and the ousted government.

She has called for the reinstatement of Mr Hamdok.

Al Burhan has continued to promise elections will go ahead as planned in 2023, reiterating to Ms Phee on Tuesday that his actions aimed to “correct the trajectory of the revolution".

Updated: November 18th 2021, 6:47 AM
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