Hundreds march in Sudan to honour ‘martyrs’ of protests
Police fire tear gas as rallies in Khartoum pay tribute to dozens of demonstrators killed in protests since December.
Sudanese police fired tear gas as hundreds of demonstrators marched in capital Khartoum towards a prominent square to honour dozens of people killed in the months-long protest movement that has rocked the northeast African country.
The rallies on Thursday came a day after protest leaders and the army rulers inked a power-sharing deal to form a joint civilian-military body tasked with installing a civilian administration – the main demand of the demonstrators.
Witnesses said men and women chanting revolutionary slogans and waving Sudanese flags headed towards the Green Yard, a prominent square in Khartoum in response to calls from a key protest group.
As they marched, the demonstrators shouted slogans that have been the rallying cries of the uprising that led to the toppling in April of President Omar al-Bashir: “Civilian rule, civilian rule!” and “Freedom, peace, justice!”
“The rallies are a tribute to those honourable ‘martyrs’ of the December revolution,” the Sudanese Professionals Association said in a statement.
Riot police fired tear gas to disperse a rally at a key bus station in downtown Khartoum, witnesses said.
“Protesters who were dispersed are trying to mobilise again and continue with the rally. It’s like a game of cat and mouse between them,” a witness told the AFP news agency from the capital’s Jackson bus station.
One onlooker said that many who arrived at the Green Square were in tears as they chanted slogans remembering those killed in the protests.
The SPA spearheaded the initial campaign that erupted in December against the government of long-time leader al-Bashir over its decision to triple the price of bread.
Those protests swiftly escalated into a nationwide movement that led to the army overthrow of al-Bashir in April.
But protesters remained in the streets following al-Bashir’s toppling, fearing the generals intended to cling to power or preserve some form of authoritarian rule.
More than 200 people have been killed since December in protest-related violence, according to doctors close to the movement.
Tensions between the generals and protesters surged after a June 3 raid on a long-standing Khartoum sit-in that led to deaths of more than 100 demonstrators.
Thousands protested in Khartoum and other cities over the weekend as part of the “Justice First” marches called by the SPA to mourn the deadly dispersal.
The Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the opposition coalition have been wrangling for weeks over what form Sudan’s transitional government should take after the military deposed al-Bashir on April 11.
On Wednesday, the protesters and generals finally agreed to a deal that paves the way for a transitional civilian administration that would govern for just over three years.
The talks, however, are set to continue on Friday as the two sides push to sort out the remaining issues.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said while the signing of the accord on Wednesday was significant, “there are still a lot of obstacles to overcome”, referring to the more controversial constitutional declaration.
“The political document doesn’t mention what roles the sovereign council and the cabinet will have – that will be defined in the constitutional declaration, which is going to be the core of the transitional agreement,” she said from Addis Ababa in neighbouring Ethiopia.