Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

Security forces are blocking roads in the Khartoum capital, Omdurman, as the country prepares for new anti-military protests.

Sudanese security forces have stepped up security in and around Khartoum as pro-democracy protesters called for mass rallies in an effort to maintain pressure on the ruling army after the resignation of the Civil Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Activists said on Tuesday that authorities had closed roads in the capital and its twin city of Omdurman in an effort to prevent protesters from reaching key government buildings.

Hamdok, who was ousted in a coup on October 25 and placed under house arrest, returned to government on November 21 under an agreement signed with military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

But pro-democracy protesters who denounced the army’s abuses of power also rejected his agreement with Hamdok, who accused them of “treason” for signing an agreement that ensured the army’s dominance in Sudanese politics.

Tens of thousands of people continued to take to the streets despite a violent security crackdown that, according to a medical group, killed at least 57 protesters and wounded hundreds since the coup.

In his televised resignation on Sunday, Hamdok said: “I have tried my best to prevent the country from slipping into disaster” and quoted “fragmentation of political forces and conflicts between the [military and civilian] components of the crossing”.

Hamdok served as prime minister for more than two years under a power-sharing arrangement between civilian leaders and the generals who removed longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Tuesday’s protests were called by the Sudanese Professional Association and the Resistance Committees, which were the backbone of the popular uprising that was al-Bashir’s removal.

The protest movement is calling for a fully civilian government to lead the transition to elections, a demand rejected by the generals who say that power will only be transferred to an elected government.

Elections are scheduled for July 2023.

After the prime minister’s resignation, protesters told Al Jazeera they would not give up their fight for full civilian rule, “with or without Hamdok”.

“His removal, as far as [protesters] “concerned, remove the last fig leaf that covered this regime and what remains is a full-fledged military dictatorship,” Ahmed el-Gaili, a Sudanese lawyer and legal commentator, told Al Jazeera separately.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “meaningful dialogue” between all Sudanese parties to “reach an inclusive, peaceful and lasting solution”, according to UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

Since his reappointment in November, Hamdok has not been able to form a cabinet amid the relentless protests.

Discussions are underway to find “an independent figure” to lead a technocratic cabinet through elections, according to a military official and a protest leader who spoke to the Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity. Among the names driven were those of former finance minister Ibrahim Elbadawi.

Elbadawi, who resigned in 2020, was not immediately available for comment.

Gibril Ibrahim, a rebel leader who joined Hamdok’s government last year following a peace deal with the transitional administration, called for a “political compromise” to resolve the crisis.

“Let us agree to work together for the sake of Sudan,” Ibrahim tweeted.

Al-Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, said an independent cabinet with “specific tasks” would be formed as the executive branch of the transitional government. The military, he said, would “protect the democratic transition” until Sudan can hold free and fair elections.

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