Hundreds of Sudanese anti-coup protesters rallied Tuesday chanting slogans against the military as security forces deployed in Khartoum and neighbouring cities, witnesses said, days after the resignation of the country’s civilian premier.
Protesters shouted “No, no to military rule” and called for the fall of Sudan’s ruling council headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who led a military coup on October 25 that derailed a transition to civilian rule.
Streets leading to the presidential palace and army headquarters in central Khartoum were sealed off amid a heavy presence of riot police, paramilitary forces and army personnel, the witnesses said.
Dozens also gathered in the neighbouring city of Omdurman and barricaded streets using rocks and bricks.
Pro-democracy activists have stepped up calls for demonstrations since the October coup which saw then-prime minister Abdalla Hamdok and cabinet ministers detained.
The coup has triggered mass demonstrations and a violent crackdown that has so far left at least 57 dead and hundreds wounded, an independent union of medics has said.
At least 13 women have allegedly been raped during the unrest, according to the United Nations.
On November 21, Burhan reinstated Hamdok in an agreement promising elections in mid-2023, but the protest movement slammed the deal as “betrayal” and has kept up street pressure.
Late Sunday, Hamdok announced that he was stepping down, saying he had tried to prevent the country “from sliding toward disaster” but that it was now at a “dangerous crossroads threatening its very survival”.
Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said Tuesday that he “respects” Hamdok’s decision and called for “urgent action” to resolve the crisis.
The United Nations’ secretary-general “regrets that a political understanding on the way forward is not in place despite the gravity of the situation in Sudan”, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday.
Sudan has been navigating a fragile transition towards full civilian rule since the April 2019 ouster of veteran president Omar al-Bashir following an unprecedented wave of youth-led protests.
Activists online have urged demonstrators to head to the presidential palace in Khartoum “until victory is achieved”, according to the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella of unions that were instrumental during the anti-Bashir protests.
General Burhan last month issued a decree allowing security forces to arrest individuals “over crimes related to the state of emergency”, effectively banning street protests.
Security forces are allowed to enter and search “any building or individual” and impose “surveillance of any property and facility”.
Since the coup, authorities have often disrupted internet services and communication lines to prevent mass gatherings.