Sudan‘s opposition alliance blamed the ruling military council for renewed deadly street violence, demanding an independent investigation into the attacks that complicated efforts to negotiate a handover to civilian power.
At least four people died and dozens were injured during protests in a square outside military headquarters late on Monday as the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and opposition Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) said they had reached a partial agreement for transition.
Monday’s victims included a military police officer and three demonstrators, state TV said. An opposition-linked doctors’ committee revised its death toll from six to four, citing a mix-up in counting the bodies of victims, the Reuters News Agency reported.
Gunfire rang out in the capital into the night after paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) – whose head is deputy of the military council – had patrolled the streets using tear gas and guns to disrupt demonstrations.
“The bullets that were fired yesterday were Rapid Support Forces bullets and we hold the military council responsible for what happened yesterday,” Khalid Omar Youssef, a senior figure in the DFCF, told a news conference.
“While they claimed that a third party was the one who did so, eyewitnesses confirmed that the party was in armed forces vehicles and in armed forces uniforms, so the military council must reveal this party.”
Demonstrators continued to block roads and bridges on Tuesday.
Call for independent probe
Protest leaders demand an independent investigation into Monday’s incidents, a call that has not received a response from the TMC yet.
“Many people believe that it will be very unlikely for the military to sign off such an investigation,” Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow said from Khartoum.
“The military insists that the incidents were the work of, who they call, armed infiltrators who got access to the square. They say those are the ones who shot people. However, protest leaders deny this claim.”
Monday’s fatalities were the first in protests in several weeks after months of demonstrations that led to army’s overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir last month.
The opposition and TMC were meeting again on Tuesday to discuss two sticking points: the military-civilian balance of power in transitional bodies, and the timeframe for elections.
Talks would wrap up on Wednesday, DFCF’s Youssef said.
The United States backed the opposition alliance in pinning the blame for Monday’s chaos on the military for trying to remove roadblocks set up by protesters.
“The decision by security forces to escalate the use of force, including the unnecessary use of tear gas, led directly to the unacceptable violence later in the day that the TMC was unable to control,” said the US embassy in Khartoum.