Sudanese protesters rallied again Friday in Khartoum, drawing tear gas from the security forces, a day after a mass demonstration joined by tens of thousands was met with the deadliest violence so far this year in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman.
Hundreds of activists massed near the presidential palace in the capital after at least nine people were killed during Thursday’s protests against the military rule led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan since the coup last October.
Nine demonstrators died, and several others were injured in Omdurman, the city west of Khartoum across the Nile River, as fresh violence rocked the capital and Sudanese towns on Thursday. A protestor died from wounds on Friday, bringing the death toll from protest-related violence to 113 since the coup.
Thursday protests began at the Republican Palace in central Khartoum. Police responded with a heavy hand as authorities switched off the internet in certain parts of the country.
The protesters are demanding the restoration of the transition to civilian rule, launched shortly after the 2019 ouster of veteran president Omar al-Bashir but has since been derailed.
The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors described those who have died as “martyrs of right and truth.”
June 30 is significant in Sudan. During his reign, al-Bashir’s government would commemorate the day he seized power after overthrowing the late prime minister Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi in 1989.
It was also the anniversary of 2019 protests demanding that the generals who had ousted Bashir in a palace coup in April that year cede power to civilians. In 2019, about six weeks after the removal of al-Bashir in April, the political scene worsened after the agreement between the military and the Coalition for Freedom and Change (a pro-democracy civilian movement that helped overthrow al-Bashir) collapsed.
Protests and sit-ins in front of the army headquarters were brutally crushed, leading to the deaths of over 100 people on June 3, 2019, referred to as the Khartoum massacre. Sudanese staged a mass protest on June 30.
Those protests led to the formation of the civilian-military transitional government that was toppled in last October’s coup.
On Thursday, June 30, 2022, tens of thousands of Sudanese protesters came out in more than 30 cities to protest the delay in the transition to civilian rule.
In the run-up to Thursday protests, people staged demonstrations in their neighbourhoods. On Wednesday, medical sources said that “security forces shot dead a child in protests in Khartoum North.”
The latest crackdown defied calls for calm from the international community.
“Tens of thousands of Sudanese took to the street... to demand democracy. We support their aspirations,” said the US State Department’s Bureau for African Affairs on Twitter.
“We condemn in the strongest terms the use of live fire by security forces against civilians. We offer our condolences to those who lost family members.”
The “violence needs to end”, demanded UN special representative Volker Perthes.
The British embassy in Khartoum said it was “appalled” by Thursday’s killings and called for a probe.
“Impunity and killing must stop,” it said.
Sudan’s police accused protesters of wounding 96 police and 129 military officers, “some critically”, on Thursday, as well as damaging vehicles and starting fires.