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  26 Oct 2021, 11:24

Sudanese take to the streets as international community condemns coup

  KHARTOUM, Oct 26, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Protesters were defiant on the streets

of Sudan early Tuesday demonstrating against a military coup, as
international condemnation of the country's security forces ramped up with
the United Nations Security Council expected to meet later.

  "Returning to the past is not an option," chanted the crowds, who remained
outside despite soldiers earlier opening fire and reportedly killing three
people.

  On Monday soldiers detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, ministers in his
government and civilian members of the ruling council, who have been heading
a transition to full civilian rule following the April 2019 overthrow of
autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

  The subsequent declaration of a state of emergency and dissolution of the
government provoked an immediate international backlash, with the United
States, a key backer of Sudan's transition process, strongly condemning the
military's actions and suspending millions of dollars in aid.

  The United Nations demanded Hamdok's "immediate release", whilst diplomats
in New York told AFP the Security Council was expected to meet to discuss the
crisis later on Tuesday.

  Announcing the state of emergency on Monday, Sudan's top general Abdel
Fattah al-Burhan said the army had taken the actions it had "to rectify the
revolution's course".

  Internet services were cut across the country and roads into Khartoum were
shut, before soldiers stormed the headquarters of the state broadcaster in
the capital's twin city of Omdurman.

  But clashes still erupted in the capital Khartoum after Burhan's speech.

  "Civilian rule is the people's choice," chanted the demonstrators, who
waved flags and used tyres to create burning barricades.

  The information ministry said soldiers "fired live bullets on protestors...
outside the army headquarters".

  Three demonstrators were killed and about 80 people wounded, according to
the independent Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.

  - International outrage -

  Speaking late Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed
concern over reports that security services had used live ammunition against
protesters.

  "The United States strongly condemns the actions of the Sudanese military
forces," said Blinken, calling for the restoration of the civilian-led
transitional government.

  State Department spokesman Ned Price said US officials had not been able to
contact the detained prime minister.

  The United States has suspended $700 million in aid.

  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that the
detention of the civilian leaders was "unlawful" and condemned "the ongoing
military coup d'etat".

  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned Sudan risked
returning to oppression.

  "It would be disastrous if Sudan goes backwards after finally bringing an
end to decades of repressive dictatorship," Bachelet said.

  The European Union, African Union and Arab League also expressed concern.

  - 'Existential moment' -

  Bashir, who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for three decades, is in jail in
Khartoum following a corruption conviction.

  He is wanted by the International Criminal Court to face charges of
genocide over the civil war in Darfur.

  A 2019 power-sharing deal after his fall saw Sudan ruled by a Sovereign
Council of civilian and military representatives tasked with overseeing a
transition to a full civilian government.

  Jonas Horner from the International Crisis Group think tank called the coup
an "existential moment for both sides".

  "This kind of intervention... really puts autocracy back on the menu," he
said.

  In recent weeks, the cracks in the leadership had grown wide.

  Hamdok had previously described splits in the transitional government as
the "worst and most dangerous crisis" facing the transition.

  In recent days, two factions of the movement that spearheaded
demonstrations against Bashir have protested on opposite sides of the debate
-- one group calling for military rule, the other for a full handover of
power.

  Tensions have long simmered within the movement, known as Forces for
Freedom and Change (FFC), but divisions ratcheted up after what the
government said was a failed coup on September 21 this year.

  One FFC leader warned of a "creeping coup" on the weekend at a news
conference in Khartoum that was attacked by a mob.

  On Monday, the mainstream FFC appealed for nationwide "civil disobedience".

  "We will not accept military rule, and we are ready to give our lives for
the democratic transition in Sudan," said one demonstrator, Haitham Mohamed.

  "We will not leave the streets until the civilian government is back,"
Sawsan Bashir, another protester, told AFP.

 

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