Sudanese protesters mass to save 'revolution'

The demonstrations were organised by the mainstream faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change, an umbrella civilian alliance which spearheaded the anti-Bashir protests more than two years ago.

25 October 2021 | International

Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali







KHARTOUM

Flashing victory signs, honking car horns and burning tyres, masses of Sudanese protesters fearing a return to military rule took to the streets nationwide to make their point.

"We will not go back to dictatorship," 21-year-old Solafa Mohammed said, covered in the Sudanese flag during a protest in the capital, Khartoum.

"We went out to say that we are alert and protecting our revolution."

Mohammed was among tens of thousands of protesters who rallied on Thursday in support of Sudan's transition to civilian rule.

They came to counter a pro-military protest camped outside the presidential palace in central Khartoum last Saturday.

The pro-civilian rule demonstrations occurred across the country, from Port Sudan in the east to the Darfur region in the west.

They were reminiscent of the late 2018-2019 protests that erupted against the three-decade rule of then-president Omar al-Bashir, who was deposed in April 2019.

Many were dancing, singing, and chanting against senior military figures who have shared power with civilians since August 2019.

Not a demand

On a dusty red lot in Khartoum, they flew Sudanese flags, some of them so big they provided shelter from the sun for protesters underneath. Others carried giant green, yellow and blue flags, several metres long, from pre-Bashir Sudan.

"We will not give up our demand of a civilian state," protester Amir Shazly said.

The demonstrations were organised by the mainstream faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), an umbrella civilian alliance which spearheaded the anti-Bashir protests more than two years ago.

They coincided with the anniversary of the Sudanese uprising against military rule by president Ibrahim Abboud in 1964.

The transfer to civilian rule is "not even a demand, but it’s what the military itself agreed to do," another protester, Ahmed al-Tayeb, said.

Deepening divisions

Sudan has been led by a civilian-military administration since a power-sharing deal in August 2019 that outlined the transition and the eventual transfer of power to civilians.

Under the transition, the country's political scene has been marred by deepening divisions between civilians and the military, and factional infighting among themselves.

Critics have alleged that the pro-military sit-in, organised by a splinter faction of the FFC, was backed by members of the military and counter-revolutionary sympathisers with the former regime.

Demonstrators at the sit-in have been calling for "military rule" and the dissolution of the transitional government headed by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Support for Hamdok's government has waned in recent months, especially following tough International Monetary Fund-backed economic reforms that took a toll on ordinary Sudanese.

Sudan's deepening economic crisis is marked by triple-digit inflation and severe shortages exacerbated by anti-government protesters who have blockade Sudan's main sea port.

"This government has not offered the Sudanese people anything for two years," Hamada Abdelrahman, a protester outside the presidential palace in Khartoum, said.

Still, rival protesters remained adamant on the transfer of power to civilians.

"We are now sending a message that the streets belong to the revolutionaries," protester Mujahed Mohammed, said.

"It’s the people who get to decide.”

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