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Sudan’s premier resigns amid anti-military demonstrations

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KHARTOUM: Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Sunday he was resigning, less than two months after being reinstated as part of a political agreement with the military.

In a televised speech, he said a roundtable discussion was needed to come to a new agreement for Sudan’s transition to democracy. The announcement came in the wake of relentless anti-coup demonstrations which have gripped the capital Khartoum since early last month.

The country plunged into turmoil after Abdel Fattah al-Burhan — Sudan’s de facto leader following the ouster of Omer Bashir — launched his coup on Oct 25 and detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Hamdok was reinstated on November 21, but mass protests have continued as demonstrators distrust veteran general Burhan and his promise to guide the country toward full democracy. Activists have kept up a more than two-month-long campaign of street demonstrations against the army’s takeover.

Sudanese security forces killed two protesters on Sunday, medics said, as thousands braved tear gas, a heavy troop deployment and a telecommunications blackout to demand a civilian government.

Demonstrators lambasted the Oct 25 coup by military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, shouting “power to the people” and demanding the military return to barracks, at protests near the presidential palace in Khartoum and in its twin city Omdurman.

As with previous demonstrations, which have become regular since the coup, the authorities erected roadblocks, with shipping containers blocking Nile River bridges between the capital and outlying areas.

But thousands nonetheless came out to demonstrate “in memory of the martyrs”, with at least 56 protesters killed since the coup, according to medics.

In the latest deaths, the pro-democracy Doctors’ Committee said one protester was shot in the chest and a second suffered a “severe head wound” at the hands of security forces in Omdurman on Sunday.

Young men on motorcycles were seen ferrying wounded protesters to hospitals as security forces blocked ambulances from reaching them.

Web monitoring group NetBlocks said mobile internet services were cut from mid-morning ahead of the planned protests, the first of the year.

Activists use the internet for organising demonstrations and broadcasting live footage of the rallies.

Sudan, with a long history of military coups, had been undergoing a fragile journey toward civilian rule since the 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir following mass popular protests.

The rallies have been repeatedly broken up by security forces firing rounds of tear gas, as well as charges by police wielding batons. On Thursday, six people were shot dead in Khartoum when security forces cracked down on mass rallies that saw tens of thousands take to the streets chanting “no to military rule”. Burhan insists the military’s move “was not a coup” but a push to “rectify the course of the transition”.

On Friday an adviser warned that “the demonstrations are only a waste of energy and time” which will not produce “any political solution”.

Activists on social media say 2022 will be “the year of the continuation of the resistance”.

They demand justice for those killed since the coup as well as the more than 250 who died during months of mass protests that paved the way for the toppling of Bashir.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2022

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