Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

A leading Sudanese protest group has rejected a UN initiative to hold talks with the military.

Security forces fired tear gas as thousands gathered in Sudan’s capital Khartoum and a neighboring city, which sustained pressure on the army after a coup 11 weeks ago.

The coup, led by Army Chief of Staff General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25, derailed a power-sharing transition between the army and civilians that was difficultly established in the wake of the overthrow of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

Security forces fired tear gas as pro-democracy protesters marched on the presidential palace on Sunday, amid roadblocks trying to prevent people from gathering there and at the army headquarters – the epicenter of mass protests that forced al-Bashir out.

Protesters also rallied in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, as well as northern Khartoum.

Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reported by Omdurman, said crowds began to gather despite a fierce security presence.

“Tear gas was used against thousands of protesters in central Khartoum. They marched to the presidential palace. They tried to reach the palace but could not as usual. “They were pushed back by security forces,” Vall said.

“In Omdurman the crowd picks up. They are behind schedule. They usually start early. They are also trying to march to central Khartoum. To get there they will have to cross bridges that are closed and manned by security forces. “Security forces are waiting for them in large numbers,” he added.

The protests since the coup – one of several takeovers in Sudan’s history after independence – have been met with repression that killed at least 60 people, according to medics.

Authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition to confront protesters, insisting that dozens of security personnel were wounded during protests that often “deviated from peace.”

Doctors in white coats were seen joining Sunday’s rallies to protest against the security forces’ storming of hospitals and medical facilities during previous protests.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, linked to the protest movement, said on Saturday that medics would deliver a memorandum to United Nations officials listing and complaining about “assaults” against such facilities.

Last week, Sudan’s civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok thank you said the country is at a “dangerous crossroads that threatens its survival”.

He only took up his position on November 21, after being ousted from office with his government in October.

On Saturday, the UN said it would facilitate conversations between key Sudanese stakeholders in an effort to resolve the crisis.

But the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), the civic alliance that spearheaded the protest against al-Bashir and became an integral part of the transitional government, said they did not have “any details” about the UN initiative not received.

On Sunday, the Sudanese Professional Association – also instrumental in the anti-al-Bashir protests – said it was “completely rejecting” the UN-facilitated talks.

“The way to resolve the Sudanese crisis begins with the total overthrow of the putschist military council and the handing over of its members to face justice for the murders committed on the defenseless. [and] peaceful Sudanese people, “the SPA said in a statement.

Al-Burhan insisted that the October military takeover “was not a coup” but only intended to “correct the course of the Sudanese transition”.

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

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