Thousands protest in Sudan against military rule

Demonstrators attend a protest in Sudan's capital of Khartoum on Jan 20, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

KHARTOUM (AFP) - Thousands of Sudanese protesters rallied Monday (Jan 24) calling for civilian rule and demanding justice for those killed in crackdowns since a military coup nearly three months ago, an AFP correspondent said.

Crowds in the capital Khartoum chanting slogans against the army headed toward the presidential palace, an area which security forces had sealed off ahead of the march.

Protests were also held in cities including Wad Madani, south of the capital, and the eastern state of Gedaref, according to witnesses.

"No, no to military rule," and "civilian (rule) is the people's choice" protesters shouted in Wad Madani, according to witness Emad Mohamed.

Sudan has been rocked by regular protests since the Oct 25 military power grab led by general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The coup derailed a civilian-military power-sharing deal painstakingly negotiated after the 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir and a planned for transition to civilian rule.

Anti-coup demonstrations have left at least 73 people killed and hundreds wounded, according to medics.

Sudan's authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition against demonstrators, and insist scores of security personnel have been wounded during protests.

A police general was stabbed to death during the unrest earlier this month. Last week, senior US diplomats visited Sudan in a bid to bolster UN-led efforts to cajole the military into restoring a transition to full civilian rule.

UN envoy Volker Perthes earlier this month launched individual talks with various Sudanese factions in a push to resolve the crisis.

The ruling Sovereign Council - formed by Burhan following the coup with himself as chairman - has welcomed the UN-led dialogue, as have the United States, Britain, neighbouring Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

The Forces for Freedom and Change, Sudan's main civilian bloc, also joined consultations "to restore the democratic transition".

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists have also been arrested in the crackdown on anti-coup activists.

On Saturday, a leading women rights activist Amira Othman was arrested following a raid by security forces on her home in Khartoum, according to a statement by the "No to Women's Oppression" initiative which she leads.

Perthes slammed Othman's arrest saying the "arrest and pattern of violence against women's rights activists severely risks reducing their political participation in Sudan."

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