Thousands rally in Sudan to demand full civilian rule

Thousands resume protests in Sudan days after the military signed a new power-sharing deal with the prime minister.

Thousands of Sudanese have taken to the streets in the capital, Khartoum, renewing their demand for a civilian government and denouncing the country’s military rulers who led a coup last month.

The protests on Thursday came just days after the military signed a new power-sharing deal with the prime minister, after releasing him from house arrest and reinstating him as head of government.

The deal came almost a month after the generals orchestrated the takeover that deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and detained dozens of politicians and activists.

Hamdok’s reinstatement was the biggest concession made by the military since its October 25 coup but leaves the country’s transition to democracy mired in crisis.

Sudan’s key pro-democracy groups and political parties have dismissed the deal as falling short of their demands for full civilian rule.

Sudan has been struggling with its transition to a democratic government since the military removed longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019, following a mass uprising against three decades of his rule.

Since the coup last month, protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets in the largest demonstrations since those that ended al-Bashir’s reign. Sudanese security forces have killed more than 40 demonstrators, according to activist groups.

Protesters renewed their demonstrations on Thursday, marching in Khartoum, beating drums and waving Sudanese flags. Many chanted: “The people want to bring down the regime” and “Woe to the military!”

In Al Daim, a working-class district of the capital, protesters called for justice for “martyrs” killed in earlier demonstrations.

“The revolution is the people’s revolution. The army back to the barracks!” the protesters chanted.

Live streams on social media also showed protests in cities including Port Sudan, Kassala, Wad Madani and El Geneina.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that spearheaded the uprising that culminated in al-Bashir’s removal, had called for the rallies and promised to carry on with protests until “the corrupt military junta is brought down and prosecuted for their crimes”.

Sudanese protesters demonstrate in the busy Jabra district of southern Khartoum [Ashraf Shazly/AFP]

The deal that Hamdok signed with the military on Sunday envisions an independent, technocratic Cabinet to be led by the prime minister until new elections are held. However, the government would still remain under military oversight. Hamdok said he would have the power to appoint ministers.

The agreement has angered Sudan’s pro-democracy movement, which accuses Hamdok of allowing himself to serve as a fig leaf for continued military rule.

While Hamdok’s reinstatement was a concession by military leader Burhan, key political parties and civilian groups say the army should play no role in politics.

The deal also stipulates that all political detainees arrested following the October 25 coup be released. So far, several ministers and politicians have been freed. The number of those still in detention remains unknown.

On Wednesday, Hamdok told a local Sudanese television channel that unless all are released, “the deal will be worthless.”

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reporting from Khartoum, said that protesters are demonstrating in honour of people who lost their lives in the crackdown by security forces, but also to “express their anger at what they say was a betrayal by the prime minister for accepting to negotiate and to sign a deal with the military.

“Since the takeover, people have been demanding that the military completely step aside from the politics of the country and hand over power to a complete civilian government, restoring the position of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, releasing all political prisoners but also having no role in the day to day affairs of the country,” Morgan said.

“As per the agreement … political prisoners are supposed to be released. Only five have been released so far, dozens of others are still in detention and people are saying that they do not trust the military to honour that agreement especially since they say that the constitutional declaration which was signed between the Forces of Freedom and Change coalition – the civilian coalition – and the army has been sidelined.”

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