Sudan police fire tear gas as thousands protest in capital

KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudanese police fired tear gas on Monday (Dec 6) as thousands of protesters rallied against the military-dominated government near the presidential palace in Khartoum, witnesses told AFP.

The demonstrators marched from various districts of the capital, many carrying national flags or chanting “No to military rule” and “The army might betray you, but the street will never betray you”.

Protesters, in the latest of many rallies in recent weeks, set up road barricades with rocks and burning car tyres, the black smoke billowing into the sky.

Sudan’s top general, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, seized power and detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Oct 25 but, after international condemnation and mass protests, reinstated him in a deal signed on Nov 21.

Critics lambasted the agreement and accused Mr Hamdok of “betrayal” as pro-democracy activists vowed to maintain pressure on the military-civilian authority.

The top general has long insisted the military’s move was “not a coup” but a step “to rectify the transition” toward full democracy that started with the 2019 ouster of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir.

Mr Hamdok, prime minister in the transitional government, has defended the deal, which he signed after his release from effective house arrest.

He has said he partnered with the military to “stop the bloodshed” that resulted from crackdowns on anti-coup street protests, and so as not to “squander the gains of the last two years”.

Nearly 45 people were killed in street rallies between Oct 25 and Nov 22 in clashes with security forces, and hundreds more wounded.

Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries, has recently also suffered runaway inflation and embarked on tough economic reforms, including slashing subsidies on petrol and diesel and launching a managed currency float.

Thirty per cent of Sudan’s population will need humanitarian aid next year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned in a report on Monday, saying the rate is “the highest in a decade”.

It blamed Sudan’s economic crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, floods and disease and the fact Sudan also hosts millions of refugees and internally displaced people.

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