Sudanese protesters geared up for mass anti-coup rallies Wednesday to mark the anniversary of a sit-in which resulted in the ouster of former leader Omar al-Bashir.
Thousands of Sudanese marched in the capital of Khartoum and other cities on Wednesday in new protests against an October military coup that plunged the African country into political turmoil and aggravated its economic woes.
It was the latest in efforts to pressure the ruling generals, whose takeover has triggered near-daily street protests demanding civilian rule. Called by pro-democracy groups, the demonstrators marched in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman amid tight security around the presidential palace, which has seen violent clashes in previous protests.
There were also rallies elsewhere, including in Qadarif and Port Sudan in the east and war-ravaged Darfur region in the west. Footage on social media, which corresponded with The Associated Press reporting, shows young people setting tires on fire and blocking roads.
The army's takeover upended Sudan’s transition to democracy after three decades of repression and international isolation under autocratic President Omar al-Bashir. It also sent the country's already fragile economy into free fall, with living conditions rapidly deteriorating. A popular uprising forced the military to remove al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019.
Since the coup, a crackdown on protesters has killed more than 90 people, mostly young men, and injured thousands, according to a Sudanese medical group.
Western governments and world financial institutions suspended their assistance to Sudan in order to pressure the generals to return to civilian-led government.
Fears of economic and security collapse
The U.N. envoy for Sudan warned last month that the country was heading for “an economic and security collapse” unless it addresses the political paralysis following the coup.
Wednesday’s marches were called for by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association and the so-called Resistance Committees, which were the backbone of the uprising against al-Bashir and have also spearheaded the ongoing anti-coup protests. They demand an immediate handover to a fully civilian government, the removal of the generals behind the coup and holding them accountable in “swift and fair trails.”
The U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Tuesday urged Sudan's military rulers to allow peaceful protests to “continue without fear of violence.”
President Joe Biden’s administration last month imposed sanctions on Sudan’s Central Reserve Police, which it described as a militarized unit of the country’s police forces, for using violence against pro-democracy protests.
The latest protests come on the third anniversary of the beginning of a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum that accelerated the removal of al-Bashir.
They also come on the 37th anniversary of the overthrow of President Jaafar al-Nimeiri in a bloodless coup in 1985 after a popular uprising. At the time, the military quickly handed power to an elected government.