Witnesses said Sudan’s security forces fired tear gas shells as thousands of protesters rallied against a deal that would restore a civilian prime minister after a military coup last month.
The protests on Thursday came just days after army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan signed a new power-sharing deal with Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, after he was released from house arrest.
The move was the biggest concession given by the military since the October 25 coup, but leaves the country’s transition to a crisis-ridden democracy. Prior to the takeover, the Transitional Government of Sudan was composed of the Sovereign Council, a joint military-civilian body headed by al-Burhan, and a civilian cabinet headed by Hamdok.
Sudan’s pro-democracy movement rejected the agreement as undermining their demands for full civilian rule and accused Hamdok of allowing himself to serve as a fig leaf for continued military rule. The army was to hand over the leadership of the Sovereign Council to a civilian in the coming months.
Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who remains deputy head of a new, al-Burhan-headed sovereign council formed after the coup, told Al Jazeera that the military takeover was followed by lengthy discussions between political parties that failed to produce results.
“What happened on 25 October was the end result of a long process since the transition began in Sudan. During this process, many discussions were held and a number of initiatives were proposed by different parties,” said Dagallo, who is widely known as formerly known as Hemati, said in an interview.
“The Prime Minister himself proposed two initiatives and during our meetings…we made maximum efforts but we could not reach a breakthrough. At that time we were left with three options, out of which we took the best step.”
‘power to the People’
Sudan has been battling its transition to a democratic government since the ouster of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019 after a massive insurgency against three decades of his rule.
Since the coup last month, during which dozens of politicians and activists were arrested, protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets in one of the largest demonstrations to end al-Bashir’s regime.
Protest organizers called Thursday “Martyr’s Day” to pay tribute to the 42 people killed in action against anti-coup protesters.
Protesters in Khartoum raised slogans such as “the people want the fall of the regime”, while others in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman raised slogans such as, “Power to the people, a civil government is the choice of the people”.
Witnesses said security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Omdurman as well as in the central state of North Kordofan and North Darfur.
Live streams on social media showed protests in cities including Port Sudan, Kasala, Wad Madani and El Jinina.
Reporting from Khartoum, Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said protesters were outraged that “what they say was a betrayal by the prime minister to accept talks and sign a deal with the military.”
“Since the takeover, the people have been demanding that the military be completely separated from politics and hand over power to a full civilian government, restore the status of Hamdok, release all political prisoners, but also the affairs of day-to-day affairs. Don’t even have a role in the country,” Morgan said.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that led the uprising that culminated in the ouster of al-Bashir, called for rallies and promised to continue the protests “until the corrupt military junta is brought down and prosecuted for their crimes”. did.
The agreement Hamdok signed with the military on Sunday envisions an independent, technical cabinet headed by the prime minister until new elections are held.
However, the government will still remain under military surveillance. Hamdok said that he would have the authority to appoint ministers.
The deal also stipulates that all political prisoners arrested after the coup will be released. So far many ministers and politicians have been released. The number of people still taken into custody is unknown.
On Wednesday, Hamdok told a local Sudanese television channel that unless everyone was released, “the deal would be worthless.”