Protester killed as Sudanese rally against coup, economic crisis

A protester was shot in the chest as thousands in Khartoum rallied against a military coup and worsening living conditions.

Sudanese demonstrators take to the streets in Khartoum to protest last year's military coup, which deepened the country's political and economic turmoil [Marwan Ali/AP Photo]

A Sudanese protester has been killed as thousands rallied against last year’s military coup and worsening living conditions, medics have said.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors identified the victim as 23-year-old Assem al-Rasoul, who was shot in the chest by a “live bullet” during an anti-coup demonstration in the capital Khartoum on Thursday.

His death brings to 93 the number of people killed in a crackdown on mass protests, which began after army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led a military coup on October 25, according to a toll kept by the committee – an independent group of medics.

Authorities are “still using deadly violence against peaceful revolutionaries”, the committee added.

In addition to protesters being killed and wounded, some 200 have been detained by security forces since the start of the crackdown. Multiple political figures and anti-coup activists are among those who have been detained.

The United States has already imposed sanctions on Sudan’s Central Reserve Police, accusing it of using excessive force against peaceful protesters.

“The military should go back to the barracks,” protesters in Khartoum chanted. “Down with the government of hunger,” they added.

The military power grab drew wide international condemnation and upended a transition to civilian rule that had followed the 2019 ouster of longtime leader President Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan’s already ailing economy has taken severe blows since the coup, as Western donors cut crucial aid pending the restoration of a transition to civilian rule.

‘Immense economic pressures’

In recent weeks, the Sudanese pound has plummeted against the US dollar as prices of food, fuel and basic commodities soared, driven higher by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both countries are major wheat producers.

On Monday, United Nations Special Representative for Sudan Volker Perthes warned that the country was heading towards “an economic and security collapse”, unless the civilian-led transition was restored.

He said the UN – along with the African Union and regional bloc the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – have agreed to join efforts to facilitate Sudanese-led political talks.

Friends of Sudan, a grouping that includes the US, United Kingdom and European Union, warned on Wednesday of “the immense economic pressures” facing Sudanese citizens.

The group also said that the restoration of a civilian-led transition “would pave the way to restore economic assistance and international debt relief”.

This week, al-Burhan dismissed senior members and boards of some 30 public universities in Sudan in the latest sign that he is tightening his grip on power.

The move has prompted many professors to submit collective resignations, while others launched open-ended strikes.

“This decision is a blatant infringement on the independence of universities,” a union for Sudanese university and higher institution professors said in a statement.

Sudan has yet to appoint a prime minister since the January resignation of Abdalla Hamdok, who was ousted in the coup before briefly coming back to office.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies