New protests against military coup in Sudan kill 14 dead

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At least 14 people died and dozens were injured, this Wednesday (17), during demonstrations in Sudan against the military leadership that led a coup at the end of last month. According to the Reuters news agency, which cites doctors as sources, the deaths were the result of actions by security forces in the vicinity of Khartoum, the country’s capital.

Thousands of Sudanese participated in the acts in several cities, demanding the release of all civilian authorities imprisoned by the military and the prosecution of those responsible for the coup.

According to witnesses heard by Reuters, security forces shot at protesters and used tear gas to disperse the crowds. Of the 14 deaths, at least 7 would have occurred in Bahri, a city neighboring Khartoum.

“Coupist forces used live bullets heavily in different areas of the capital, and there are dozens of gunshot wounds, some of them in serious condition,” reported the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, a group of professionals aligned with protesters.

The Sudanese Congress Party, which was part of the military and civilian coalition that supported the ousted prime minister, Abdallah Hamdok, said one of its leaders was arrested after police raided his home.

In the streets, Sudanese carried photos of people killed in previous protests, as well as images of Hamdok. The civilian prime minister was even arrested in the seizure of power and was released and placed under house arrest a day later. “Legitimacy comes from the street, not from cannons,” read one banner.

Even before starting the protests on Wednesday, the protesters encountered a large contingent of police, who blocked roads and intersections. Bridges over the Nile River were also closed.

Despite the deaths, security forces initially did not comment on the acts. Before them, the army chief and the country’s leader since the coup, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said peaceful protests are allowed and the military does not kill protesters.

The regime is accused by the Sudanese medical organization of being responsible for the deaths of at least seven people during acts last Saturday (13). In all, since the October 25 coup, 38 people, including three teenagers, have died and hundreds have been injured.

Added to the brutality of the security forces in repressing the recent internet blocking by the military, which has made it difficult for opponents to organize. With the total or partial suspension of mobile internet services in Sudan since the coup, protesters have marked the rally for acts via SMS — this Wednesday, however, the regime also blocked telephone communications.

Last Thursday (11), amidst international pressure, Burhan announced a new transitional council to run the country. The group is led by the general himself, who also retained as deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Before the coup, the two already exercised these functions, but shared power with Hamdok, the civilian prime minister. The composition would be maintained until 2023, when elections were scheduled in the country.

The appointment of the new transitional council has generated disgust between Sudanese and the international community, which sees the possibility of a peaceful settlement to the imbroglio ever more distant. The UN called Burhan’s move “very worrying”.

On Tuesday (16), the diplomat sent to the country by the American government, Molly Phee, met with Hamdok to discuss ways to regain power. Days earlier, she had already met with Burhan, who promised the release of political prisoners within two days.

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