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 several parts of Khartoum came only days after the United Nations launched a bid to facilitate talks between Sudanese factions.
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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 center, 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 disperse the protesters, according to witnesses.
Pro-democracy activists have organized regular demonstrations against the military takeover, which derailed a transition to civilian rule following al-Bashir’s ouster.
The protests have been met by a bloody crackdown that has left at least 63 people dead and hundreds 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 independent trade union confederation which has been instrumental in organizing the protests, said that it completely rejected the UN-facilitated talks.
The mainstream faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change, the leading civilian pro-democracy group, said it will “discuss” the invitation 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 reinstated 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 threatening its very survival.”
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