KHARTOUM – Security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters who rallied against Sudan’s military rulers on Thursday, as diplomatic moves to broker a political solution to a post-coup crisis escalated. showed few signs of progress.
Thousands of people marched towards the presidential palace in Khartoum amid high temperatures and a heavy security presence, in the first major protest since the fasting month of Ramadan and the highest turnout for several weeks.
Crowds in the capital – and others filmed in other cities on social media – could be heard chanting “Kill us, we are not afraid” and “The people’s government is civil”.
Sudan has been in the midst of political upheaval since months of mass protests that prompted the military to overthrow former President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
After further rallies, the military agreed to share power with civilian groups, but later regained power in a coup in October 2021.
Since then, the civil parties, including the resistance committees organizing the demonstrations, have rejected negotiation with the military. Military leaders turned to factions close to Bashir in an attempt to build a political base.
The talks organized by the United Nations and the African Union which were to be launched this week have stalled, amid strong criticism from parts of the military and civil society.
Khartoum’s resistance committees on Wednesday signed a charter outlining their vision for ending military rule, inviting political parties to join them.
“After the signing of the charter, we are more optimistic,” said Ahmed Fathalrahman, a 38-year-old protester.
As the protest began, a Reuters witness saw a massive deployment of military, police and central reserve forces – against which the United States imposed sanctions in March – along the road to the demonstration and in residential areas.
At least 95 people have been killed in protests since the coup and thousands injured, doctors say. Lawyers say dozens of political prisoners remain in detention.
Military leaders say the deaths will be investigated, those detained face criminal charges and the coup was a corrective to political infighting.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, writing by Nafisa Eltahir, editing by Aidan Lewis and Andrew Heavens)