Sudan’s coup: calls for mass demonstrations against the military coup

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Protesters in Khartoum demand civilian rule

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A demonstration in Khartoum condemning the coup and calling for civilian rule.

Union gatherings and political parties in Sudan called for mass protest demonstrations today, Saturday, to denounce the military coup and demand civilian rule.

The Central Council of the Forces for Freedom and Change, the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Resistance Committees announced their participation in the demonstrations after their refusal to negotiate with the army leaders.

The calls to demonstrate come two days after the Sudanese army chief, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, announced the formation of a Sovereignty Council headed by him after his overthrow of the civilian government late last month.

The authorities preempted the protests by closing the bridges linking the three cities of the capital, Khartoum, Omdurman and Khartoum North.

The army also placed concrete blocks to block all roads leading to the headquarters of the General Command in central Khartoum. Also, joint security forces from the army, police and Rapid Support Forces were deployed in strategic facilities and some main streets.

The head of the United Nations Mission in Sudan, Volker Peretz, urged the security forces not to interfere with the demonstrators and to allow them to protest.

On Friday, Western powers, including the United States, Britain and the European Union, expressed concern about the Sudanese army’s formation of a new transitional council headed by the army chief, and called for a return to a transitional government headed by civilians.

A statement by these forces condemned “the alleged appointment of the Sovereign Council in Sudan in violation of the constitutional declaration in 2019”.

The three powers said in a joint statement issued with Norway and Switzerland that “the unilateral action by the army undermines its commitment to adhere to the transitional framework that was agreed upon.”

The statement also called for the immediate return of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the civilian-led transitional government.

Rejection of the new Sovereignty Council

The Sudanese Professionals Association had announced its rejection of the new Sovereignty Council announced by the army chief, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.

On Thursday, Al-Burhan announced the formation of a new presidential council. He was sworn in as Chairman of the Sovereignty Council before the Chief Justice, Fateh Rahman Abdeen.

Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan

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Army Commander Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.

The Sudanese Professionals Association said in a statement that Al-Burhan’s decisions to appoint a new sovereign council “have no legitimacy.”

He called for the continuation of the mobilization and protest until the overthrow of the coup council and the establishment of a transitional civilian authority, according to the statement.

The announcement of the new council sparked protests in Khartoum and other areas, amid calls for new demonstrations on Saturday.

Following the announcement of the formation of the new Sovereignty Council, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric warned that recent developments in Sudan were “extremely worrying”, adding that the Organization’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wanted “to see a return to the transition of power as soon as possible.” Dujarric also called again for the release of ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other political leaders.

The former Sovereignty Council, which Al-Burhan dissolved last month, was the institution that ruled Sudan jointly with a civilian government after the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir’s regime in 2019.

According to the decree forming the new council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti) has retained his position as vice president of the council.

Demonstrations took place in Khartoum to protest against the decree. Several areas in the Sudanese capital witnessed protest demonstrations hours after the announcement of the formation of the council.

Angry protesters burned tires and blocked main roads in the three cities of the capital, Khartoum, Omdurman and Khartoum North.

Demonstrators also went out in several residential neighborhoods in southern Khartoum to denounce the military coup and demand the return of the civilian government.

Protesters in the streets of Khartoum at night

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Several regions in Sudan have witnessed demonstrations against the military coup since it took place on October 25.

On the 25th of October, Al-Burhan turned against his civilian partners. He dissolved all the transitional institutions, pledging to form a new Sovereignty Council and government.

The new council includes 13 members, nine who were members of the previous council, including five senior army officers, and four new members who replaced the previous council members belonging to the forces of freedom and change.

The leaders of the Revolutionary Front remained in the council, namely Malik Agar, Al-Taher Hajar and Al-Hadi Idris.

Women won two out of five civilian seats in the new council.

The appointment of the representative of eastern Sudan in the new council was postponed until “further consultations” were held.

Eastern Sudan witnessed widespread protests before the coup, but the protest leaders decided to suspend their movement early this month to give the authorities the opportunity to respond to their demands.

The military coup ended the power-sharing agreement between the army and civilians that was reached after the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, which was supposed to lead to elections in late 2023.

After the coup, a number of senior civilian officials were arrested while Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was placed under house arrest.

The mission of the former Sovereign Council was to be the head of the Sudanese state alongside the Hamdok government, which was managing the daily affairs of the Sudanese people.

Al-Burhan and Dagalo led the previous Sovereign Council, which was formed in 2019, but the leadership was due to be handed over to civilians in the coming months.

Al-Burhan and Hamdok

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Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been under house arrest since the coup

Mediations aimed at securing the release of detainees and a return to a power-sharing agreement have faltered since the coup, as the army moved to consolidate its grip on the reins of power in the country.

The resistance continues

The Central Doctors Committee joined other unions in Sudan and the Forces for Freedom and Change in calling for popular rallies to be held today, Saturday, against the coup.

This came after the coup authorities arrested Sudanese doctor Muhammad Naji al-Asam on Thursday and transferred him to an unknown location, according to the Central Doctors Committee.

Najm al-Asam rose to prominence in the popular uprising that overthrew al-Bashir and then became a vocal critic of the military coup.

In an official statement on the arrest of al-Asam, the Central Doctors Committee said that the “resistance” will continue “until the coup is overthrown and its leaders are tried.”

The Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change had announced civil disobedience throughout Sudan, but this move was hampered by the blackout imposed on access to the Internet via mobile phones throughout Sudan since the coup.

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