Tens of thousands of protesters marched towards Sudan’s Presidential Palace in Khartoum on Tuesday for demonstrations on the first anniversary of a coup that halted the transition towards democracy, Reuters reports.
Internet services were blocked, according to monitoring group, Netblocks. Protesters burnt tyres on main roads, chanting “power belongs to the people, the military belongs in the barracks”, Reuters reporters said.
Protesters marching from southern Khartoum towards the Palace and from central Omdurman towards the bridge connecting the city to the capital were faced with heavy tear gas from security forces, the reporters said.
The military takeover halted Sudan’s transition to democracy following the overthrow of Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, and plunged an economy already in crisis further into turmoil. Foreign donors quickly suspended relations and the currency tumbled, and the government hiked taxes, spurring numerous strikes.
A year on, Sudan’s military leaders have not appointed a prime minister, while Islamists loyal to Bashir who were purged from the civil service have returned. Bashir is in jail pending trial on charges he denies, related to the coup that brought him to power in 1989 and the early 2000s war in Darfur.
Tribal violence has broken out across the country, including in Blue Nile state over the past week, where up to 250 were killed, according to the United Nations.
The generals, who say they will give up power when a government is in place, are now engaged in negotiations with the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition that had been sharing power prior to the coup.
The talks are facilitated by the United Nations and African Union, as well as the “Quad” of the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
The resistance committees that have sustained the anti-military movement with regular demonstrations have mostly rejected talks with the military and demand that its leaders be brought to justice over the killings of over 100 protesters, including one on Sunday, and other alleged violations.
“Even though they blocked the internet and closed the bridges, we will keep putting pressure on the military until they step aside,” said Salah Abdallah, a 21-year-old university student, who said he was against the deal.
There was no immediate response to requests for comment on Tuesday’s protests from government officials.
The FFC last week presented its vision for a civilian-led authority to lead a transition to an election.
A leader of the group told Reuters, on condition of anonymity, that the negotiations were going well. He said differences that remained, on issues of transitional justice and security sector reform, “could be overcome”.
“The biggest roadblock is the Islamists who are trying to create crises and an atmosphere that is not conducive to finding a solution,” he said, particularly those who remain a significant presence in the military and security services.
Islamist leaders loyal to Bashir, who are not involved in the negotiations, have rejected the possibility of a deal with the FFC as exclusionary, and say the FCC does not represent the majority of the country.
In a statement, the United States, Britain, European Union and other Western countries expressed their support for efforts and said they “stand ready to help Sudan unlock its economic potential after a return to a credible civilian transition”.