Thousands take to streets denouncing killing of protesters, including school children, ahead of new round of talks.
Four people have been shot dead at a demonstration in Omdurman, the twin city of Sudan‘s capital Khartoum, a doctor’s committee said, as protest leaders and ruling generals resumed negotiations to finalise a power-sharing deal.
The incident on Thursday occurred as thousands of demonstrators participated in a “million-man march” to protest the killing of four school children at a rally earlier this week in El-Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan in central Sudan.
Monday’s rally, where two other demonstrators were also killed, was held to protest growing bread and fuel shortages.
“Four protesters have been killed by live ammunition and several wounded at a rally in Omdurman” on Thursday, the Central Committee for Sudan Doctors (CCSD), which is linked to Sudan’s protest movement, said in a statement.
Tarig Babikir, a witness from Omdurman, told Al Jazeera that dozens of protesters were injured after government forces fired live ammunition at the rally.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Sudan, furious over the killing of school children in El-Obeid by security forces.
Security forces responded with tear gas and ammunition. A curfew has been imposed & schools suspended. pic.twitter.com/ox4qbUKjBH
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 31, 2019
“We were moving along with the march this evening in Umbada residential area, when suddenly, four-wheel-drive vehicles carrying government forces started to open fire on us. Many people were injured and taken to hospital,” said Babikir.
Earlier on Thursday, opposition leaders from the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) said they feared more violence against the protesters.
“We have credible information that militias of the old regime are planning to attack the protesters. This will have serious consequences, and we urge the Transitional Military Council [TMC] to take its responsibility in protecting the protesters,” said Abbas Madani Abbas, a leader of the protest movement.
“Otherwise, we will also hold them responsible in the killing of protesters,” he added.
Protest leaders had called for the nationwide march on Thursday to “seek justice for the victims” and condemn the killings, which they blamed on the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
“Where is the investigation committee?” chanted protesters as they marched in the Burri and Bahri districts of the capital, sites of regular protests since unrest first erupted in December against the government of former President Omar al-Bashir.
A member of Sudan’s ruling TMC said earlier on Thursday that seven members of the RSF have been arrested over the teenagers’ killing on Monday.
Despite calls from demonstrators to halt the negotiations, opposition leaders from the FFC and TMC ruling generals resumed talks on Thursday evening, according to journalists on the ground.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from neighbouring Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, said African mediators and the opposition coalition expect a deal on the constitutional declaration will be signed, despite demonstrators calling for the negotiations to be postponed.
“Protesters on the streets are demanding a halt to these negotiations. They are saying that any transitional government formed should be preceded by justice and accountability for the loss of life since December,” she said.
Ahead of Thursday’s talks, FFC leaders said the coalition has resolved major sticking points in the talks, a move that brings them closer to finalising a power-sharing deal.
The two sides signed a deal on July 17 which secured a three-year transition period and a joint sovereign council with rotating leadership.
Subsequent talks to thrash out the details of a constitutional declaration stumbled due to disagreements over the composition of a civilian legislative council and immunity for military figures for past crimes.
The opposition had demanded that members of the sovereign council not be granted blanket immunity from prosecution for past crimes.
However, FFC leaders said on Thursday they had agreed that they could be granted only “procedural immunity” – meaning top officials could be tried with the permission of two-thirds of the legislative council.
The opposition leaders said both sides also agreed on another key point, reaffirming that the parties included in the FFC would have 67 percent of the legislative council while the rest will be granted to other opposition and political groups.
Sudan’s ruling military council did not immediately confirm the details of the agreements.
Sporadic bouts of violence have delayed negotiations in the past. The FFC postponed talks scheduled for Tuesday following the El-Obeid killings.
Protesters have accused the paramilitary group, headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the TMC, of killing scores of protesters since the removal of al-Bashir in April.