211117 Sudan
Sudanese protest against the military that ousted government last month, in Khartoum, Sudan, on November 17, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Khartoum: Sudanese security forces fired teargas on Thursday at protesters who had stayed on the streets of northern Khartoum a day after 15 people were killed, witnesses said.

Dozens of demonstrators manned makeshift barricades built the previous day in the capital’s northern districts in protest against last month’s widely condemned military takeover.

Top general Abdul Fattah Al Burhan — Sudan’s de facto leader since the April 2019 ouster of president Omar Al Bashir — detained the civilian leadership and declared a state of emergency on October 25.

The move upended Sudan’s fragile transition to full civilian rule, drawing wide international condemnation and a flurry of punitive measures and aid cuts.

“We condemn violence towards peaceful protestors and call for the respect and protection of human rights in Sudan,” said the US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs on Twitter.

Al Burhan insists the military’s move “was not a coup” but a step to “rectify the course of the transition” to civilian rule.

Thousands took to the streets on Wednesday in Khartoum and other cities but were met by the deadliest crackdown since the military take over.

At least 15 people, mostly from northern Khartoum, were killed on Wednesday alone, according to medics, raising the death toll of protesters to 39 in recent weeks.

Wednesday’s demonstrations were organised despite a near-total shutdown of internet services and disruption of telephone lines across Sudan.

By Thursday morning, phone lines had been restored but internet services remained largely cut.

Bridges connecting the capital with its neighbouring cities reopened and traffic again flowed through many streets in Khartoum.

Security forces were seen removing makeshift barricades of bricks and rocks from some streets in eastern and northern Khartoum, said an AFP correspondent.

Shuttle diplomacy

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee has been shuttling between the generals and the ousted civilian government in a bid to broker a way out of the crisis.

Phee has called for the reinstatement of ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who is effectively under house arrest.

The few remaining free members of his cabinet continue to describe themselves as the “legitimate” government and refuse to negotiate with the military leaders.

While some of the civilian leaders have been freed since the power grab, new ones have been arrested.

Burhan last week announced a new Sovereign Council, the highest transitional authority, with himself as chief and all nine military members keeping their posts.

Its four civilian members were replaced.

Burhan has also removed a clause in the transitional constitutional declaration that mentions the Forces for Freedom and Change, the key group behind the protests that toppled Bashir.

He has continued to promise elections will go ahead as planned in 2023, reiterating to Phee on Tuesday that his actions aimed to “correct the trajectory of the revolution”.