Tear gas fired at Sudan protests as thousands rally against army
Security forces also blocked roads in the capital Khartoum and in Omdurman as anti-military protests continue.
Sudanese security forces fired tear gas at anti-coup protesters in Khartoum chanting slogans against the military days after the resignation of the country’s civilian premier, witnesses said.
Protesters on Tuesday shouted “No, no to military rule” and called for the disbandment of Sudan’s ruling council headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who led an October 25 coup that derailed a transition to civilian rule.
Thousands of protesters gathered across Sudan, including in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, as well as the eastern city of Port Sudan and the South Darfur capital of Nyala.
Demonstrators in east Khartoum “burned car tyres and built rock barricades on the streets,” witness Sawsan Salah told the AFP news agency.
Other protesters urged the military “to go back to the barracks”.
Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reporting from Omdurman, said protesters are “marching calmly and chanting against the military rule”.
In southern Khartoum and in Bahri, thousands of protesters gathered and tried to march towards the presidential palace, Vall said, but they were “met with tear gas”.
Earlier on Tuesday, Sudanese security forces beefed up security in and around Khartoum as protesters called for mass rallies in a bid to keep up pressure on the military following the resignation of civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Activists said authorities closed roads in the capital and Omdurman to prevent demonstrators from reaching key government buildings.
“Not all the bridges are closed today, and the internet was not cut off, Vall said. “So far, the protest seems calm, but the pattern is that during the last hours of the afternoon, that’s when [security forces] fire bullets … and crowds get bigger and bigger”.
Hamdok, who was deposed and put under house arrest in an October 25 coup, had returned to government on November 21 under a deal signed with al-Burhan.
But pro-democracy protesters who had denounced the military’s power grab also rejected its deal with Hamdok, whom they accused of “betrayal” for signing an agreement that ensured the military’s dominance in Sudanese politics.
According to Vall, protesters said as long as a prime minister is appointed by the military, and “as long as the military are still in power … that’s not what the revolutionaries” want.
“They want a civilian transitional government, they want democracy, they want elections,” Vall said.
Tens of thousands of people have continued taking to the streets despite a heavy security crackdown that has killed at least 57 protesters and wounded hundreds since the coup, according to a medical group.
In his televised resignation on Sunday, Hamdok said: “I tried my best to stop the country from sliding towards disaster” and cited “fragmentation of the political forces and conflicts between the [military and civilian] components of the transition”.
Hamdok had served as prime minister for more than two years under a power-sharing arrangement between civilian leaders and the generals who removed longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
Tuesday’s protests have been called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Resistance Committees, which were the backbone of the popular uprising that al-Bashir’s removal.
The protest movement insists on a fully civilian government to lead the transition towards elections, a demand rejected by the generals who say power will be handed over only to an elected government.
Elections are planned for July 2023.
Following the prime minister’s resignation, protesters told Al Jazeera they will not give up their fight for full civilian rule, “with or without Hamdok”.
“His removal, as far as [protesters] are concerned, removes the last fig leaf that was covering this regime and what remains is a full-fledged military dictatorship,” Ahmed el-Gaili, a Sudanese lawyer and legal commentator, separately told Al Jazeera.
Protesters in Sudan say they won't give up until the country is under civilian rule.
🔗: https://t.co/z3AiaBh20l pic.twitter.com/IC0ijHFC3v
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) January 4, 2022
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “meaningful dialogue” between all Sudanese parties to “reach an inclusive, peaceful and lasting solution,” according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
Since his reinstatement in November, Hamdok had been unable to form a cabinet amid the relentless protests.
Deliberations have been under way to find “an independent figure” to lead a technocratic cabinet through elections, according to a military official and a protest leader who spoke to The Associated Press news agency condition of anonymity. Among the names floated was that of former Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi.
Elbadawi, who resigned in 2020, was not immediately available for comment.
Gibril Ibrahim, a rebel leader who joined Hamdok’s government last year following a peace deal with the transitional administration, urged for a “political compromise” to resolve the crisis.
“Let us agree to work together for the sake of Sudan,” tweeted Ibrahim.
Al-Burhan, head of the governing Sovereign Council, said an independent cabinet with “specific tasks” would be formed as the executive branch of the transitional government. The military, he said, would “protect the democratic transition” until Sudan is able to hold free and fair elections.
The United States and European Union warned Sudan’s military on Tuesday against naming its own prime minister.
The so-called troika on Sudan – the US, Britain and Norway – and the EU “will not support a prime minister or government appointed without the involvement of a broad range of civilian stakeholders,” a joint statement said.