Sudan army supporters in new show of force in Khartoum

By: AFP
Published: 09:08 PM, 5 Feb, 2022
Sudan army supporters in new show of force in Khartoum
Caption: Sudan army supporters in new show of force in Khartoum.
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Thousands of supporters of Sudan's army rallied Saturday in front of the UN mission in Khartoum, in a new show of force after months of protests against an October military coup.

Competing processions marched in Khartoum, according to AFP journalists -- a sign of the deep divisions that have taken root in the country, which is among the poorest in the world.

Army supporters, some of them riding camels, chanted slogans denouncing "foreign interference" and paying tribute to the military.

People danced and an organiser rallied the crowd from a podium, declaring a "mandate" for General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan to lead the country throughout its transitional period.

One placard read "no to UN interference", while another showed the face of its Sudan envoy Volker Perthes crossed out in red.

Demonstrators attacked several journalists, AFP correspondents said -- a recurrent event during pro-military rallies.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of army backers had boarded a train in Atbara, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of the capital, to join the procession.

Dozens of anti-army protesters tried in vain to prevent them from boarding, demanding that the "military return to the barracks" and shouting "power to the people", Abu Obeida Ahmed, a resident of Atbara, told AFP.

In Omdurman, across the River Nile from the capital Khartoum, hundreds of women demonstrated to denounce a security crackdown on anti-coup demonstrators that has killed at least 79 people and wounded hundreds, according to a pro-democracy doctors' group.

The latest protests come as the UN has launched talks to help Sudan resolve the political crisis that was triggered by the October 25 coup, led by Burhan.

Last month, UN envoy Perthes said the consultations aimed "to support the Sudanese to reach an agreement on a way out of the current crisis". 

But he added that "the UN is not coming up with any project, draft or vision for a solution".

The coup, one of several in Sudan's post-independence history, derailed a fragile power-sharing arrangement between the army and civilians that had been painstakingly negotiated after the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Army supporters are seeking to cement the post-coup status, while opponents have refused any partnership with the military. Both camps reject the UN push for talks. 

The military has been in power in Sudan for most of the 66 years since its independence from colonial rule, but since the October coup, civil society organisations have declared that "neither partnership, nor negotiation" with the army are possible.

Last week, pro-military protesters also rallied outside the UN offices in Khartoum, holding banners that read "Down, down UN".

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.