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Police disperse Sudan pro-army rally outside PM’s office

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Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok chairs an emergency cabinet session in the capital Khartoum, on October 18, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
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KHARTOUM — Police fired teargas Monday at pro-army protesters in Sudan’s capital Khartoum outside the office of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, officials said, on the third day of well-organized demonstrations.اضافة اعلان

Hamdok, who gathered his cabinet for an “urgent” emergency meeting, has called recent unrest the “worst and most dangerous crisis” of the country’s precarious two-year transition since the army’s ouster of hardline ruler Omar al-Bashir.

The demonstrations come as Sudanese politics reels from divisions among the civilian and military factions steering the rocky transition since the fall of Bashir, who was toppled in April 2019 following mass protests.

“Riot police repelled an attempted assault on the seat of government,” Khartoum state authorities said in a statement.

Before police intervened, the pro-military protesters shouted “down with Hamdok!”

Critics allege the protests are being driven by members of the military and security forces, and involve counter-revolutionary sympathizers with the former regime.  

‘Government of soldiers’ 

The protesters began a sit-in outside the presidential palace on Saturday, with some traveling for days across hundreds of kilometers across the vast country.
They demand the dissolution of Sudan’s post-dictatorship interim government, which is mired in both political and economic crises.

Sudan is run by a Sovereign Council, a military-civilian body that oversees the transition until elections slated for 2023, with the government led by Hamdok, a former UN economist.

“The civilian government has failed,” said Tahar Fadl Al-Mawla, a 52-year-old tribal elder, speaking at a tent erected at the gates of the presidential palace.
“We want a government of soldiers to protect the transition,” he added.

A column of protesters marched from there to shout slogans outside Hamdok’s office, also in central Khartoum, but left after police broke up the rally.

Unlike many previous protest camps in the past, these pro-military demonstrations are well run and well supported, those taking part say.
Ahmad Jumaa, 65, said he traveled more than 900 kilometers from Nyala in Sudan’s western Darfur region, with one goal in mind — to replace the transitional authorities with a “military government”.

‘Very well organized’ 

Demonstrations were organized by a splinter faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), a civilian alliance which spearheaded the anti-Bashir protests and became a key plank of the transition.

“The uprising that toppled the dictatorship (in 2019) was self-financed,” political scientist Otham Merghani told AFP.

In contrast, “this sit-in is orchestrated by an official party”, Merghani said, adding that “some have doubts that this party is financing it.”
The mainstream FFC bloc has called for rival counter demonstrations on Thursday.

At the protest camp on Monday, volunteers distributed trays of food, while others helped pitch tents for those arriving from long distances.

“We receive food from individuals or organizations, as well as from the sit-in management committee,” said Ahmed Adam, one of those helping feed them crowd of — largely male — protesters at a large open-air kitchen, surrounded by baskets of vegetables, sacks of rice, and bottled water.

“We have food and drink,” said Mohammed Issa, a 57-year-old farmer from Gedaref, some 350 kilometers southeast of Khartoum, as patriotic songs blasted from loudspeakers. “Everything is very well organized.”

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