Death toll rises as Sudan’s capital rocked by more clashes

Roads have been blocked by barricades of rocks, debris and burning car tyres that have sent black smoke billowing into the sky

AGENCIES | Aljazeera – Security forces have clashed with protesters furious over a military coup that derailed a fragile transition to democracy and sparked an international outcry, with the United States and United Nations dialling up the pressure on Sudan’s new military government.

At least one protester was killed on Thursday, according to medics, on the fourth day of confrontations between soldiers and anti-coup protesters in Khartoum, as the UN Security Council called on the military to restore the civilian-led government they toppled on Monday.

The council in a unanimously passed statement expressed “serious concern” about the army power grab in the poverty-stricken Northeast African nation and urged all sides “to engage in dialogue without pre-conditions”.

After the UN Security Council statement, US President Joe Biden said his nation stood with the demonstrators.

“Together, our message to Sudan’s military authorities is overwhelming and clear: the Sudanese people must be allowed to protest peacefully and the civilian-led transitional government must be restored,” he said in a statement.

“The events of recent days are a grave setback, but the United States will continue to stand with the people of Sudan and their non-violent struggle,” said Biden, whose government has frozen aid.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan – Sudan’s de facto leader since the 2019 overthrow of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir after huge youth-led protests – on Monday dissolved the country’s fragile government.

While the civilian leader, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, has been under effective house arrest, the capital has been rocked by days of unrest and is bracing for major demonstrations on Saturday.

Roads have been blocked by barricades of rocks, debris and burning car tyres that have sent black smoke billowing into the sky, while most shops have been shuttered in a campaign of civil disobedience.

“We do not want military power, we want a free democratic life in this country,” one protester, who asked not to be named, told the AFP news agency.

The coup was the latest to have hit the country which has experienced only rare democratic interludes since independence in 1956.

The World Bank and the US have frozen aid and denounced the army’s power grab, while the African Union has suspended Sudan’s membership over what it termed the “unconstitutional” takeover.

The US, EU, United Kingdom, Norway and other nations stressed in a joint statement their continued recognition of the “prime minister and his cabinet as the constitutional leaders of the transitional government”.

Sudan had been governed since August 2019 by a joint civilian-military council, alongside Hamdok’s administration, as part of a transition to full civilian rule.

Recent years saw the country – formerly blacklisted by the US as a “state sponsor of terrorism” – make strides towards rejoining the international community, with hopes of boosting aid and investment.

But analysts had said the civilians’ role receded before the coup, which the experts viewed as the generals’ way of maintaining their long-held grip on the country.

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