Sudanese vow to keep up protests after crackdown

Saul Bowman
June 9, 2019

Heavily armed paramilitaries roamed the Sudanese capital Thursday, forcing fearful residents to hide indoors after a crackdown on protesters that authorities admitted had left dozens dead and prompted the African Union to suspend Khartoum.

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union has suspended Sudan's membership in the regional organization and threatened to impose sanctions of the members of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) if they fail to hand over power to a civilian-led authority.

Journalist have been barred from reporting from the country which is under a Transitional Military Council (TMC) leadership after former President Omar Al-Bashir was ousted through protests.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Professionals Association, a main member of the Forces of Freedom and Change, called on foreign states and global agencies to reject the legitimacy of the TMC - which it has been referred to since the Monday attack as the "coup council" - as any government it would help to form would have "no shred of legitimacy".

After the council failed to agree, eight European countries said in a joint statement that they "condemn the violent attacks in Sudan by Sudanese security services against civilians".

"The people of Sudan deserve an orderly transition, led by civilians, that can establish the conditions for free and fair elections, rather than rushed elections imposed by the TMC's security forces", the UK, Norway and United States said in a joint statement. "This amounts to a practical response from the military council that effectively rejects the Ethiopian prime minister's mediation effort", Khalid Omar Yousef, a DFCF leader, told Reuters after Esmat's arrest.

Quoting eyewitnesses, CNN had earlier reported that the police and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces fired shots at the protesters, while many law enforcement personnel beat the demonstrators who took to the streets.

A series of talks between the military and protesters has broken down, decreasing the likelihood of a swift transition deal. It threatened "punitive sanctions" if the military does not quickly hand over power to civilians.

The office said that Dr Abiy had met the leader of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, as well as officials of the Forces for Freedom and Change, an opposition grouping. It also said more than 500 have been wounded in the crackdown.

But doctors said Wednesday that 40 bodies had been pulled from the Nile, sending the death toll soaring to at least 108.

Addressing the nation on state television, Al-Burhan said the TMC has also cancelled all previous agreements with the main opposition coalition and has suspended talks with them.

"There is a great shortage in medical staff, mainly caused by the military militias targeting doctors and preventing them from reaching hospitals and clinics to perform their duty", it said.

RSF members and soldiers on Saturday cleared major Khartoum streets of roadblocks put up by protesters. The RSF, commanded by the military council's deputy leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, was built up from militias that fought insurgents in Sudan's western Darfur region during a civil war that began in 2003. But on Tuesday, al-Burhan called for national elections within nine months.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded protests against Bashir, urged the global community "to isolate and stop dealing with the so-called military council".

The military council has denied the force was involved in any illegal actions and said it was facing a negative media campaign "from hostile parties".

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