Sudan protesters reject army election plan after crackdown

Khartoum: Sudan’s protest movement called on Tuesday for fresh rallies and rejected the military rulers’ election plan after more than 35 people were killed in what demonstrators called a “bloody massacre” by security forces.
Protest leaders called on their supporters to take part in “total civil disobedience” to topple the ruling military council following the deadly dispersal Monday of a weeks-long sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum.
The Transitional Military Council ousted veteran president Omar al Bashir in April after months of protests against his authoritarian rule and had agreed a three-year transition period to a civilian administration.
But army ruler General Abdel Fattah al Burhan announced in a televised statement the plan had been ditched and an election would take place under “regional and international supervision”.
“The military council decides on the following: cancelling what was agreed on and stopping negotiating with the Alliance for Freedom and Change, and to call for general elections within a period not exceeding nine months,” Burhan said. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded protests against Bashir, rejected the call.
“It’s not the putschist council, nor its militias, nor its leaders who decide the fate of the people, nor how it will transition to a civilian government,” it said.
The SPA said Monday’s action against the sit-in amounted to a “bloody massacre”. The Transitional Military Council said in a statement that it “regrets” the events, calling it a “clean-up operation” that went wrong.
Tensions remained high across Khartoum, with heavily armed members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, thought to have been largely behind the crackdown, deployed in large numbers.
Despite the security presence and internet outages, residents of some areas of the capital still came out to mark the Eid al Fitr festival a day early and to protest.
The SPA urged people to hold Eid prayers on Tuesday to “pray for the martyrs” and then “demonstrate peacefully”.
In Omdurman, just across the Nile from Khartoum, a witness said by phone that the Rapid Support Forces were trying to disperse demonstrators who had put up barricades by “firing live rounds in the air”.
“We gathered in our square as we usually do every year but the Rapid Support Forces and the police fired teargas and soundbombs at us and after the prayers the youth closed the main street by putting up barricades,” a resident of the Bahri area said.
Other streets around the city centre were almost deserted on Tuesday, with many markets and shops closed and almost no cars on the roads on an overcast morning.
Flights into Khartoum were disrupted as airlines monitored developments on the ground.
The United States called it a “brutal” crackdown on protesters, who want the generals behind the Bashir’s overthrow to hand over to civilian rule. — AFP