Tear gas fired as Sudan coup opponents keep up protests

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Sudanese security forces fired tear gas at thousands of protesters heading toward the presidential palace on Thursday to demonstrate against an October coup, witnesses said.

The demonstrations which converged from sev-eral parts of Khartoum came only days after the United Nations launched a bid to facilitate talks between Sudanese factions.

The push was aimed at resolving the crisis since the October 25 military coup led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the resignation of the civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok earlier this month.

Protesters chanted: “With all our power, we are heading to the palace” as they converged on the city centre, witnesses said.

Others hollered: “Burhan is dirty, brought to (power) by the Islamists,” who were dominant under the three-decade rule of general-turned-president Omar al-Bashir, ousted in April 2019 following months of mass protests.

Security forces fired volleys of tear gas to dis-perse the protesters, according to witnesses. Pro-democracy activists have organised regular demonstrations against the military takeover, which derailed a transition to civilian rule following Bashir’s ouster.

The protests have been met by a bloody crack-down that has left at least 63 people dead and hun-dreds wounded, according to medics.

On Monday, UN special representative Volker Perthes said he was launching “consultations” with political and social actors along with armed and civil society groups.

“We don’t accept this initiative at all,” 62-year-old protester Awad Saleh said. “It’s not clear what points it constitutes and so for us it is deficient.” The latest UN push received a mixed response from Sudanese factions.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an in-dependent trade union confederation which has been instrumental in organising the protests, said that it completely rejected the UN-facilitated talks.

The mainstream faction of the Forces for Free-dom and Change, the leading civilian pro-democracy group, said it will “discuss” the invita-tion internally and announce its vision.

Spokesman Wagdy Saleh said the FFC rejected “any partnership” with the military.

But the ruling Sovereign Council — formed by Burhan following the coup with himself as chairman — welcomed the talks.

The UN push came a week after the resignation of the civilian premier, who had only been rein-stated on November 21 after weeks of house arrest during the coup.

In his resignation speech, Hamdok warned that Sudan was now at a “dangerous crossroads threaten-ing its very survival”.—APP

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