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Crowds take to streets in Sudan to protest against military rule

* Mobile phone and internet services cut ahead of the latest round of planned demonstrations
Thousands of Sudanese took to the street of the capital Khartoum on Thursday to protest against the military. -- AFP
Thousands of Sudanese took to the street of the capital Khartoum on Thursday to protest against the military. -- AFP

KHARTOUM: Crowds thronged the streets of Sudan's capital Khartoum and other cities on Thursday in the first of several anti-military rallies planned this month, and security forces fired tear gas to disperse the protests, footage posted on social media showed.

Mobile phone and internet services were largely cut ahead of the demonstrations, as on previous protest days, and some bridges between Khartoum and its sister cities of Bahri and Omdurman were also closed.

Protesters had said they would try to reach Khartoum's presidential palace as they try to keep up pressure on the military, which halted a power-sharing arrangement negotiated after the 2019 overthrow of Omar al Bashir when it staged a coup last October.

"We will occupy the streets once more, heading for the tyrant's palace, rejecting military rule, and adhering to peacefulness, our strongest weapon," said a statement from resistance committees organising protests from Bahri.

Unverified videos and photos posted by activists and civilian groups on social media showed security forces firing heavy volleys of tear gas in the capital. They also showed rallies in other cities across Sudan.

Despite the military promising to allow peaceful protests, crackdowns on demonstrations since the coup have left at least 57 people dead and many more injured, according to medics aligned with the protest movement.

Calls and mobile internet services were disrupted from late morning, journalists and internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said.

Demonstrations also took place in other cities, including in the eastern Red Sea city of Port Sudan, as well as in Atbara in the north and Wad Madani in the south, witnesses said.

"The authority is that of the people," protesters chanted in Wad Madani, as they demanded soldiers "go back to the barracks".

In Atbara, protesters called on Burhan to "hand over the country's keys and leave," witnesses said.

Crowds in the central state of North Kordofan chanted "No, no to military rule" while waving and draped in the national flag.

On Tuesday, the United States, European Union, Britain and Norway warned the military against naming their own successor to Hamdok, saying they would "not support a prime minister or government appointed without the involvement of a broad range of civilian stakeholders".

The Western statement added that "unilateral action to appoint a new prime minister and cabinet would undermine those institutions' credibility and risks plunging the nation into conflict".

Protesters have defied a hardline response from the security forces.

Burhan last month issued a decree allowing security forces to arrest individuals "over crimes related to the state of emergency", effectively banning street protests.

Under the decree, security forces are allowed to enter and search "any building or individual" and impose "surveillance of any property and facility". -- Reuters

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