Sudanese forces disperse anti-coup protesters, arrest dozens of them

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KHARTOUM, SUDAN – Sudan security forces dispersed protesters and gathered more than 100 people in the capital Khartoum on Sunday, in the latest crackdown on pro-democracy protesters following last month’s military coup.

The Sudanese army took power on 6 October. 25, dissolving the transitional government and arresting dozens of officials and politicians. The coup drew international criticism and massive protests on the streets of Khartoum and other parts of the country.

The takeover reversed the country’s fragile planned transition to democratic government more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government.

Teachers and education workers protested the coup outside the Ministry of Education in the Bahri district of Khartoum, according to the Sudanese Professionals Association, which led the uprising against al-Bashir.

Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters and arrested at least 113 people, mostly teachers, lawyer Moez Hadra said. There have been sporadic protests elsewhere in Khartoum, he said.

Local authorities have announced the resumption of school classes in the capital for the first time since the coup.

Sunday was the first of two days of a national strike called by the SPA, which vowed to continue protesting until a full civilian government is established to lead the transition. Several shops and businesses in Khartoum have been seen opening, according to an Associated Press video reporter.

The new crackdown also came as mediation efforts between military and civilian leaders stumbled, according to a military official with knowledge of the ongoing efforts.

The mediators, including the UN envoy to Sudan, were still working to soften each side’s position, as both are still true to their preconditions before engaging in “meaningful, possibly direct talks,” the official said. on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to inform the media.

Deposited Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who is still under house arrest at his residence in Khartoum, insists on releasing detained government officials and politicians in connection with the coup. He also wants “guarantees” that the military will return to pre-coup power-sharing agreements, the official said.

The military, on the other hand, insists that the Oct. 25 events were not a “coup” and intervened to “correct the course” of the transition period, the official said.

As part of the mediation efforts, an Arab League delegation, meanwhile, met on Sunday with General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the military leader, and Hamdok, the pan-Arab organization.

He said the delegation, led by Deputy Secretary General Hossam Zaki, held talks with Hamdok on the challenges of the transition and “ongoing efforts to support constructive dialogue” to re-establish a path to democracy.

The military has given mixed signals. He allowed four ministers to return to their homes under house arrest, according to Hadra, the lawyer. The four included Hamza Baloul, Minister of Information and Culture, Hashim Hasabel-Rasoul, Minister of Communications, Ali Gedou, Minister of Trade and International Cooperation, and Youssef Adam, Minister of Youth and Sports. They were among more than 100 government officials and politicians detained following the coup.

The military also arrested three leaders of the Forces for Freedom and Change, a coalition born out of the 2019 protest movement, shortly after meeting UN officials in Khartoum. The meeting was part of UN-led mediation efforts.

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Magdy reported from Cairo.

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