Just two months ago, scenes of jubilation filled the Sudanese capital Khartoum after the country’s military overthrew President Omar al-Bashir.
His 30-year premiership came to an end following increasingly bloody protests over his repressive rule and the deteriorating economy.
Yet weeks later, the optimism which filled the city’s streets has been replaced with bloodshed, after at least 118 people were killed, doctors said, when the ruling military council opened fire on pro-democracy protesters.
In April, the demonstrators were left angry and disappointed when the defence minister announced the armed forces would govern for the next two years.
#Sudan’s brave people have called for change, but it must be real change. A military council ruling for 2 years is not the answer. We need to see a swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership. And we need to ensure there’s no more violence.
The aftermath of al-Bashir’s removal has seen a struggle emerge between the two sides, with protesters demanding a handing over of power from the military, to civilians.
Meanwhile, the UN has voiced concerns that the nation of 40 million people is sliding into a “human rights abyss”, and has called for an independent investigation into violations against peaceful protesters.
What Sparked The Unrest?
On June 3, Sudanese security forces attacked a pro-democracy sit-in in the capital Khartoum, killing dozens of people. Hundreds were wounded by the gunfire and the death toll has since escalated amid ongoing unrest.
The killings were a challenge to a protest movement that first succeeded in forcing the overthrow of Sudan’s long-time strongman al-Bashir. Dozens of bodies have been pulled out of the Nile river in the capital following the violence.
After the military removed al-Bashir and seized power, tens of thousands of protesters had remained in the protest camp and other sites, saying an end to his rule was not enough and demanding that the generals who took power hand over authority to civilians.
Protest leaders and military officials have been negotiating over the make-up of a transitional government, as protesters call for “limited military representation” in a sovereign council that would lead the country as it transitions to civilian rule over three years.
But ruling generals are refusing to relinquish power.
The violent crackdown put an end to the relative peace that surrounded the talks, signalling that the military had lost patience with activists’ demands.
Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has spearheaded the protests, previously said: “We have no choice but to continue our protests and civil disobedience until the fall of the military council.”
Madani Abbas Madani, a leading activist, said the protesters would continue a civil disobedience campaign until the overthrow of the ruling military council.
Is There Any Hope Of An Agreement Between Protesters And The Military?
Not at the moment.
Ethiopian mediator Mahmoud Dirir said talks between the two sides on restoring a civilian administration would resume soon.
The army has agreed to release political prisoners as a confidence-building measure, Mahmoud Dirir said on Tuesday.
The steps appeared to show a softening of positions after talks between the two sides collapsed following the disruption at the start of June.
Days after the violent crackdown, Sudan’s military council said ruling generals were ready to resume negotiations.
We have no choice but to continue our protests and civil disobedience until the fall of the military councilMohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, Sudanese Professionals’ Association
But protest organisers dismissed the call, saying the military was “not serious” about negotiating with protesters while killing them at the same time.
At the time, spokesman al-Mustafa said the protesters “totally reject” the call from ruling General Abdel-Fattah Burhan for the resumption of talks, the Associated Press reported.
Gen Burhan said the military would unilaterally form an interim government and hold elections sooner, within seven to nine months, under international supervision, and said any agreements reached earlier in the negotiations with the demonstrators were cancelled.
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