Sudan security forces fire tear gas as thousands protest coup

The resumption of protests since the coup has been met with a crackdown that has killed at least 60 people. PHOTO: REUTERS

KHARTOUM (AFP) - Security forces fired tear gas on Sunday (Jan 9) as thousands rallied in Sudan's capital Khartoum and a neighbouring city, witnesses said, keeping up pressure on the military following a coup 11 weeks ago.

The coup, led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Oct 25, derailed a power-sharing transition between the military and civilians that had been painstakingly established in the wake of longtime autocrat Omar-al-Bashir's ouster in 2019.

Security forces fired tear gas as pro-democracy protesters headed towards the presidential palace, witnesses said, amid roadblocks seeking to prevent people converging there and at army headquarters. Protesters also rallied in Omdurman, Khartoum's twin city.

The resumption of protests since the coup has been met with a crackdown that has killed at least 60 people, according to medics.

Authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition in confronting protests and said scores of security forces have been wounded during demonstrations that have often "deviated from peacefulness".

Last week, Sudan's civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned, saying that the country was at a "dangerous crossroads threatening its very survival".

He had only taken his position back up on Nov 21, having originally been ousted along with his government in the October coup.

On Saturday, the United Nations said it would facilitate talks between key Sudanese stakeholders in a bid to resolve the crisis.

But the Forces for Freedom and Change, the civilian alliance which spearheaded the protests against Mr Bashir and became integral to the transition government, said it had not received any details about the UN initiative.

On Sunday, the Sudanese Professionals Association - similarly instrumental in the anti-Bashir protests - said it completely rejected the UN-facilitated talks.

"The way to resolve the Sudanese crisis begins with the complete overthrow of the putschist military council and the handover of its members to face justice over the killings committed against the defenceless (and) peaceful Sudanese people," the association said in a statement.

General Burhan has insisted that the October military takeover "was not a coup" but only meant to "rectify the course of the Sudanese transition".

The UN Security Council is to meet on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in Sudan.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.