Despite five days of murderous repression, opponents of the military coup in Sudan are determined to put the democratic transition back on track. They are organizing a show of force against General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Al-Bourhane on Saturday, October 30. The risk of a new bloodbath in a country plagued by conflicts does not affect their determination, according to pro-democracy activist Tahani Abbas, interviewed by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“The soldiers will not lead us, this is our message”, she explains. And the “Manifestation of the million” promised on social networks and by graffiti on the walls of Khartoum is only ” first step “. For five days, the Sudanese entered ” civil disobedience “, perched on barricades. In front of them, live or rubber bullets and tear gas canisters from the security forces rained down, already killing eight of them.
The toll could be heavier, according to doctors on the spot, who count nine protesters killed and more than 170 injured. Despite everything, says Tahani Abbas, “Our only weapon is pacifism, and it has already paid off”. Holding on despite the roundups, many public institutions have announced that they are joining the ” civil disobedience “ which transformed Khartoum into a dead city for five days.
“We are no longer afraid”
On Saturday morning, the authorities cut off access to the Internet and the telephone network in the capital. A first parade started from Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, witnesses said, as the security forces, in large numbers, crisscrossed the capital, blocked the bridges connecting it to its suburbs and searched, at random, the passers-by and cars.
State television, stormed by the army on the first day of the putsch, broadcasts testimonies of soldiers, bandages to the head, claiming to be victims of violence on the part of the demonstrators.
The main slogan of the opponents is that there is “No turning back possible” after the revolt which overthrew dictator Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, a general who himself came to power by a putsch thirty years earlier. “We are no longer afraid”, hammers M againme Abbas. Because, for the demonstrators, who also promise parades of the diaspora abroad, Saturday is a repetition of the “Revolution” of 2019, which brought down Bachir at the cost of six months of mobilization and more than 250 deaths.
This latest putsch cut short hopes for free elections at the end of 2023 and plunged the country, which belongs to an already unstable region, into the unknown. Nine days ago, tens of thousands of Sudanese marched to the cry of “Burhane, leave power! “. An event that probably precipitated the course of things, the general, alone at the helm today, claiming to have acted to prevent “A civil war”.
Gibril Ibrahim, Sudanese finance minister, who supported a pro-army sit-in before the coup, warned: “Destroying public property is not a peaceful protest. “ He thus suggests that the police could resume their fire on the demonstrators who set up barricades, sometimes with poles. “The putschists are trying to perpetrate acts of sabotage to find a pretext for an outburst of violence”, already accuses the spokesman of the government overthrown Monday.
“The world is watching”
This time, “The military leaders must not be mistaken: the world is watching them and will not tolerate more blood”, warns Amnesty International. In fact, as of Friday evening, the United States urged the army to restraint. This day, said a senior official, “Will be a real test on the intentions of the military”. And this time around, the activists want even darker streets, a challenge as many of them have been arrested. But, say experts, with the experience of 2019, the protesters are now better organized.
The UN chief, Antonio Guterres, has ordered “The soldiers not to make more victims” in a country where almost all civilian leaders are still being held or under house arrest. The latter, who sat with Mr. Burhane and other soldiers within the transitional authorities, were taken away at dawn on Monday by soldiers, before General Burhane announced the dissolution of all the country’s institutions.
The opponents have with them an international community which has increased the sanctions against the generals. The United States and the World Bank have stopped their aid, vital for this East African country caught between rampant inflation and endemic poverty, the African Union has suspended Khartoum, while the Security Council of the ‘UN demands the return of civilians to power.
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“The military will not rule us”: opponents of coup in Sudan remain determined