CAIRO (AP) — Thousands of Sudanese took to the streets on Thursday in the capital of Khartoum, renewing their demand for a fully civilian government and denouncing the country's military rulers who were behind the October coup.
The protests came just days after the military signed a new power-sharing deal with the prime minister, after releasing him from house arrest and reinstating him as head of government. The deal came almost a month after the generals orchestrated the takeover that deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and detained dozens of politicians and activists.
Hamdok’s reinstatement was the biggest concession made by the military since its Oct. 25 coup but leaves the country’s transition to democracy mired in crisis. Sudan’s key pro-democracy groups and political parties have dismissed the deal as falling short of their demands for a fully civilian rule.
Sudan has been struggling with its transition to a democratic government since the military overthrew longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019, following a mass uprising against three decades of his rule.
Protesters marched Thursday through Khartoum, beating drums and waving Sudanese flags. Many chanted: “The people want to bring down the regime” and “Woe to the military!”
The Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that spearheaded the uprising that culminated in al-Bashir's ouster, had called for the rallies and vowed to carry on with protests until “the corrupt military junta is brought down and prosecuted for their crimes."
Similar protests were held elsewhere in Sudan, including in the provinces of Kassala, North Darfur, West Kordofan and Northern Sudan. Activists circulated videos on social media showing tear gas being fired at protesters. There was no immediate word of any injuries.
The deal that Hamdok signed with the military on Sunday envisions an independent, technocratic Cabinet to be led by the prime minister until new elections are held. However, the government would still remain under military oversight though Hamdok claimed he will have the power to appoint ministers.
The agreement has angered Sudan’s pro-democracy movement, which accuses Hamdok of allowing himself to serve as a fig leaf for continued military rule.
The deal also stipulates that all political detainees arrested following the Oct. 25 coup be released. So far, several ministers and politicians have been freed. The number of those still in detention remains unknown.
On Wednesday, Hamdok told a local Sudanese television channel that unless all are released, “the deal will be worthless.”
Since the coup, protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets in the largest demonstrations since those that ended al-Bashir’s reign. Sudanese security forces have killed more than 40 demonstrators, according to activist groups.