Sudan protesters march towards palace on coup anniversary

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Sudan’s capital of Khartoum on Tuesday, marking the first anniversary of a military coup that upended the nation’s short-lived transition to democracy.

Videos published on social media showed marchers with flags and drums, most of them bound for the Presidential Palace. Other footage showed protesters standing in front of convoys of security forces.

Net blocks, an online network tracker, announced early on Tuesday that internet services across the country were blocked. Various Sudanese pro-democracy activists and local journalists reported security forces fired tear gas at protesters and earlier closed off bridges leading to Khartoum. The Associated Press has been unable to verify these claims.

Since its takeover, the military has cracked down and suppressed near-weekly pro-democracy marches, with as many as 118 protesters killed, according to statistics published by the Sudan Doctors Committee.

Sudan’s top general, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and paramilitary deputy, Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, were meant to oversee a democratic transition after Sudan’s autocratic ruler, Omar al-Bashir, was toppled in a popular uprising in 2019.

But last year, Gen.Burhan dissolved the ruling Sovereign Council, arrested the transitional prime minister and unseated the civilian faction of a power-sharing government that had been in place. He later said he acted to stop a civil war.

Rights groups say hundreds have been detained since the military takeover, many without charge.In recent weeks, internationally backed talks between Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the ruling military have made some progress.

According to The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change — an alliance of political parties and protest groups — the military has agreed on a drafted constitutional document written by the country’s Bar Association. This would allow the appointment of a civilian prime minister who would lead the country through elections by 2024.

But Sudan’s more ardent pro-democracy groups, including the grassroots Resistance Committees who spearhead anti-coup street protests, reject any settlement with the military. Along with the Communist Party, they have demanded that those responsible for the year’s deadly crackdown on demonstrations be tried in court. -AP

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