Large protests entered their second day after Sudan witnessed a coup at dawn yesterday when the Sudanese military detained Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and other civilian members of the government, announced a State of Emergency, disbanded the Sovereignty Council, and effectively seized power. According to the latest estimates, at least seven protestors were killed as security forces cracked down on the protests.
The Chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, who is also Commander in Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) declared a State of Emergency in the country after his military seized power in a dawn coup in Khartoum yesterday. Internet and mobile phone networks were cut off and Prime Minister Hamdok was placed under arrest in an unknown location, as were several other civilian members of the TSC.
Immediately after the coup, which took place just days after the Marches of the Millions, protestors flocked the streets to condemn the coup and demand the continuation of the democratic transition. At least seven protesters were killed yesterday when security forces cracked down on the protests, while over 140 were left injured. Images shared on social media showed heavily armed military and security forces on patrols in Khartoum, restricting movement and firing teargas at demonstrators.
Demonstrations went on through the night and have entered their second day this morning. Protestors chant slogans such as 'returning to the past is not an option' and 'the people are stronger' and they have blocked streets and burned car tyres, especially in Khartoum and Omdurman.
Thousands of protestors stormed the perimeter of the SAF General Command yesterday before the military forces fired bullets and tear gas at the protesters. A large number of demonstrators also gathered in front of Parliament in Omdurman and protesters continued to cross the bridges from Bahri and Omdurman to Khartoum on foot to participate in the rally in front of the General Command in Khartoum.
Eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga that a large number of trucks carrying military forces chased the demonstrators and tried to remove the barricades. Video footage showed military assaults on citizens in various neighbourhoods.
'Now there is an urgent need for help in hospitals close to the army command' – Socialist Doctors' Association
The Socialist Doctors' Association (SDA) has called on doctors and nurses to support first aid departments to treat protestors, even in the case of complete strikes and civil disobedience actions. "Now there is an urgent need for help in hospitals close to the army command" their statement read. The Royal Care hospital close to the army command is in urgent need of blood, the SDA warned.
The statement, which was published yesterday, also said "Revolution until the Victory".
Protests are also taking place in other parts of the country, such as El Gezira, Red Sea state, and River Nile state where people have blocked roads and chanted slogans against El Burhan.
Fear of a massacre
“We heard 300 have been arrested but we do not have a complete list of names", an activist told the Independent from Khartoum. "We are worried that another massacre will happen.” “It is clear this is happening because the military, which runs a lot of the economy, does not want to hand over the control of the country to civilians", she said.
During the protests in front of the army command against military power after the deposal of dictator Omar Al Bashir, hundreds of protestors were killed or went missing in what is commonly known as the June 3 Massacre.
'We are worried that another massacre will happen' – activist in Khartoum
Calls for protest
The Joint Chamber of the Marches of the Millions for Civilian rule and Democratic Transition published its 'Revolutionary Escalation Schedule' with protest plans for the next days. Yesterday, they called on Trade Unions and Facilitating Committees to hold speeches and vigils across Sudan. For today and tomorrow, the chamber called on the Resistance Committees to organise speeches in public spaces calling for the handover of power to civilians and the formation of a Revolutionary Parliament.
For October 28, the chamber called on all Sudanese to hold protest vigils on highways, in front of government buildings, and in front of embassies abroad. On October 29, they planned nightly marches and demonstrations to call for mass demonstrations on October 30 in the entire country and abroad to demand a full handover of power to civilians and the completion of the promised government structures.
The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) have also called for large scale civil disobedience. The FFC demanded the release of detained civilian politicians, the resignation of all members of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), and the handing over of power to the civilian government.
The SPA called on the people of Sudan to break the State of Emergency rules with large crowds and evening activities, and that El Burhan must ace "the wrath of a people liberated from fear by the December revolution".
Civilian and military tensions pre-coup
The coup came as a surprise to many although tensions between the military and civilian components had risen to an all-time high in Sudan in the past weeks, especially after an aborted coup attempt last month. PM Hamdok warned that Sudan was facing the "worst and most dangerous crisis" since the fall of the previous regime.
According to the Juba Peace Agreement and the Constitutional Document, the military was meant to pass the leadership of the TSC to a civilian member of state in the coming months as part of the country's democratic transition after the regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir was overthrown. This dictatorship is held responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the genocide in Darfur.
In recent weeks, Sudan has witnessed renewed tensions over the transition period and the division of power in the country and the BBC wrote at the time that “deep divisions between military and civilian leaders are threatening to derail the transition to democracy”.
Sudanese military and civilian leaders exchanged accusations after the failed coup in September. The military accused the civilian politicians of squabbling and quarrelling over positions, while civilian members of the government criticised the military leaders for “claiming a monopoly of guardianship over the country and the sole right to lead it through the transitional period”.
Earlier this month, Khartoum as well witnessed a thousands-strong protest sit-in near the Republican Palace, calling for the replacement of the government of PM Hamdok by a goverment of technocrats. The protests were supported by rebel leaders Minni Minawi and Jibril Ibrahim.
During the Marches of the Millions on October 21, however, hundreds of thousands of people went out on the street to support the current government, and demand a continuation of the democratic transition towards civilian rule. They accused the military component of the government of jeopardising the democratic transition.