Tens of thousands of protesters marched across Sudan on Sunday in the latest demonstration against military rule. The junta tried to make it more difficult to organize mass demonstrations by blocking the Internet, but the streets were still filled with people demanding civilian rule.
State media reported seven people were killed and 181 injured after security forces opened fire, first with tear gas and then with bullets. Activists said the death toll was higher, at least 11 as of Monday afternoon.
Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of former dictator Omar al-Bashir rising to power. Bashir was deposed in a coup in April, with promises that the military would transition to democratic civilian rule as quickly as possible.
Such a transition has not occurred despite increasingly large and angry protests across the country. The last big protest on June 3 became a massacre with over a hundred fatalities claimed by the opposition, many of them attributed to a brutal paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) loyal to the military government.
The RSF claimed it assaulted the protest movement in June to crack down on “subversive forces,” a line repeated by its commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo on Saturday ahead of the new mass demonstrations.
“There are vandals, there are people who have an agenda, a hidden agenda, we don’t want problems,” he said.
Dagalo, who is also deputy chief of the ruling military council, insisted the junta wants to reach an “urgent and comprehensive agreement with no exclusion” for transitioning to a civilian government.
“We in the military council are totally neutral. We are the guardians of the revolution. We do not want to be part of the dispute,” he claimed.
The ruling military council said protest organizers would be held “entirely responsible if any soul is lost” on Sunday.
Demonstrators marched through the capital of Khartoum and other Sudanese cities on Sunday calling on military council head General Abdel-Fattah Burhan to relinquish power. Opponents of the junta described it as little more than an extension of Bashir’s thirty-year regime and vowed they would continue their “revolution” undaunted by the June 3 crackdown. Outside observers said it was the largest set of demonstrations since Bashir was deposed.
The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, an opposition group, reported multiple gunshot deaths inflicted by “military council militias” in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman. Dagalo replied by accusing subversive opponents of the junta of firing the fatal shots.
“There are snipers who are firing on people, they shot three members of the Rapid Support Force and five or six citizens. There are infiltrators, people who want to jeopardize progress,” he said.