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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Sudanese call for anti-coup protests as death toll rises
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Sudanese anti-coup protesters barricade a road amid ongoing protests against last month's widely condemned military takeover in Khartoum. - AFP
Sudanese anti-coup protesters barricade a road amid ongoing protests against last month's widely condemned military takeover in Khartoum. - AFP

KHARTOUM: Sudanese anti-coup activists called for mass protests on Sunday, as medics said the number of people killed since last month's military takeover had risen to at least 40. Both the United States and African Union have condemned the deadly crackdown on protesters and called on Sudan's leaders to refrain from the "excessive use of force".


Sudan's top general Abdel Fattah al Burhan on October 25 declared a state of emergency, ousted the government and detained the civilian leadership.


The military takeover upended a two-year transition to civilian rule, drew wide international condemnation and punitive measures, as well as provoking people to take to the streets.


The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) have urged protesters to keep up their campaign. On Saturday, pro-democracy activists made online calls for mass anti-coup protests with a "million-strong march on November 21".


The SPA is an umbrella of unions which were instrumental in the months-long demonstrations that led to the ousting of president Omar al Bashir in April 2019.


Protests on Wednesday provoked the deadliest day so far, with the toll of those killed now standing at 16 after a teenager who was shot in the head died, medics said.


"One martyr passed away... after he succumbed to severe wounds after being hit by live rounds to the head and the leg on November 17," the independent Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said. He was aged 16, it added.


Most of those killed on Wednesday were in North Khartoum, which lies across the Nile river from the capital, medics said.


Later on Saturday, dozens rallied to commemorate the latest deaths in North Khartoum. The protesters chanted slogans demanding "retribution" and a transition to civilian rule.


Police officials deny using any live ammunition and insist they have used "minimum force" to disperse the protests. They have recorded only one death, among demonstrators in North Khartoum.


On Friday, small groups of protesters rallied in several neighbourhoods after prayers against the military coup, especially in North Khartoum, where people were seen building barricades across roads. Security forces sporadically fired tear gas to disperse them.


The SPA said security forces had "stormed homes and mosques" there on Friday.


"We call for those responsible for human rights abuses and violations, including the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, to be held accountable," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.


"In advance of upcoming protests, we call on Sudanese authorities to use restraint and allow peaceful demonstrations," he added.


The African Union, which suspended Sudan after the coup, also condemned "in the strongest terms" Wednesday's violence, in a statement released Saturday.


AU Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat called on Sudan's authorities "to restore constitutional order and the democratic transition" in line with a 2019 power-sharing deal between the military and the now-deposed civilian figures.


The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for the release of reporters detained while covering anti-coup protests including Ali Farsab who it said was beaten, shot, and detained by security forces on Wednesday.


"Sudanese security forces' shooting and beating of journalist Ali Farsab make a mockery of the coup government's alleged commitment to a democratic transitional phase in the country," Sherif Mansour, CPJ's MENA programme coordinator, said Friday.


Sudan has a long history of military coups, enjoying only rare interludes of democratic rule since independence in 1956.


Burhan, the top general, insists the military's move "was not a coup" but a step "to rectify the transition" as factional infighting and splits deepened between civilians and the military under the now-deposed government.


He has since announced a new ruling council in which he kept his position as head, along with a powerful paramilitary commander, three senior military figures, three ex-rebel leaders and one civilian. - AFP


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