Sudanese forces seal Khartoum ahead of new anti-coup rally

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Khartoum (AFP) – Sudanese security forces deployed on the streets of Khartoum on Thursday, isolating the capital from its suburbs and cutting off the mobile internet as opponents of the military government prepared to stage further protests.

Pro-democracy activists continued a campaign of street protests against the army’s October 25 coup despite a crackdown that left at least 48 people dead in protest-related violence, according to the Independent Committee of Physicians.

Army, police and paramilitary patrols roamed the streets of Khartoum, while shipping containers blocked the Nile bridges that connect the capital to its northern suburbs and sister city Omdurman.

Bridges were blocked during the latest demonstrations on December 26, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets.

But for the demonstrations scheduled for Thursday, new surveillance cameras had been installed on the main arteries along which the demonstrators were to march.

Activists are using the internet to organize protests and broadcast live footage of the rallies.

United States calls for calm

The U.S. Embassy called for restraint on the government led by military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, which was counting on a controversial partnership agreement in November with civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to quell the anger of the government. public.

Khartoum Cléa PÉCULIER AFP

“The United States Embassy reiterates its support for the peaceful expression of democratic aspirations and the need to respect and protect individuals exercising freedom of expression,” said a statement.

“We call for extreme discretion in the use of force and urge the authorities to refrain from resorting to arbitrary detention.”

Activists condemned the sexual assaults during protests on December 19, in which the UN said at least 13 women and girls were raped.

Hamdok had been under house arrest for weeks before being reinstated under the November deal, which promised elections for July 2023.

But the deal was widely criticized as a gift to the military that gave its coup a coat of legitimacy.

Sudan still does not have a functioning government, a precondition for resuming reduced international aid in response to the coup.

More than 14 million people, or a third of the Sudanese population, will need humanitarian assistance next year, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the highest level in a decade.