Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Sudan Sunday chanting ‘civilian rule, civilian rule” as police fired tear gas in Khartoum, amid international calls for restraint to avoid a new deadly crackdown.
The planned “million-man” march is being seen as a test for protest organisers whose movement has been hit by a June 3 raid on a Khartoum sit-in and a subsequent internet blackout that has curbed their ability to mobilise support.
Dozens of demonstrators were killed and hundreds wounded when armed men in military fatigues stormed the sit-in outside army headquarters, shooting and beating protesters who had camped there since April 6.
On Sunday, police fired tear gas in the northern Khartoum district of Bahari and in Mamura and Arkweit, in the capital’s east, as thousands of protesters chanted “Civilian rule! Civilian rule!”, a witness told AFP.
Security forces also fired tear gas at demonstrators in the eastern town of Gadaref, a witness said.
Thousands of men and women, flashing victory signs and carrying Sudanese flags, flooded the streets of Al-Sahafa neighbourhood of Khartoum.
“We are here for the martyrs of the (June 3) sit-in. We want a civilian state that guarantees our freedom. We want to get rid of military dictatorship,” said Zeinab, 23, as travellers in vehicles cheered them and motorists honked their horns in support as they drove by.
“No one gave a mandate to the military council, all the people are against the council,” said another protester, who did not reveal his name, as he chanted “I’m the next martyr.”
Others took to the streets of Jabra neighbourhood in Khartoum, with many chanting revolutionary slogans, witnesses said, while rallies were under way in other districts.
Thousands also launched protests in the cities of Port Sudan, Al-Obied, Madani and Khasma el-Girba, witnesses said.
The latest demonstrations come at a time when Ethiopia and the African Union (AU) are jointly mediating between the protesters and generals.
The European Union, several Western nations and rights groups have called on the generals to avoid any violence.