Sudanese security forces have fired tear gas at thousands of protesters who have rallied against a deal that saw the prime minister reinstated after his ouster in a military coup last month, witnesses have said.
The protests on Thursday came just days after the military signed a new power-sharing deal with the prime minister, after releasing him from house arrest and reinstating him as head of government.
The deal came almost a month after the generals orchestrated the takeover that deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and detained dozens of politicians and activists.
Hamdok’s reinstatement was the biggest concession made by the military since its October 25 coup but leaves the country’s transition to democracy mired in crisis.
Sudan’s key pro-democracy groups and political parties have dismissed the deal as falling short of their demands for full civilian rule.
Deputy head of Sudan’s sovereign council Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo told Al Jazeera in an interview that last month’s military takeover followed long discussions between political parties which failed to produce results.
“What happened on October 25 was the ultimate outcome of a long process since change started in Sudan. During the process, many discussions were made and many initiatives were proposed by various parties,” Dagalo said.
“The prime minister himself proposed two initiatives and during our meetings… we made maximum efforts but we couldn’t reach a breakthrough. At that point we were left with three options, the best of which was the move we had taken.”
Sudan has been struggling with its transition to a democratic government since the military removed longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019, following a mass uprising against three decades of his rule.
Since the coup last month, protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets in the largest demonstrations since those that ended al-Bashir’s reign.
Protest organisers have dubbed Thursday as “Martyr’s day”, to pay tribute to the 42 people killed, according to medics, in the deadly crackdown against anti-coup demonstrators.
Demonstrators in Khartoum renewed their protests on Thursday, chanting: “The people want the downfall of the regime” while in the capital’s twin city Omdurman others shouted “power to the people, a civilian government is the people’s choice”.
Security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Omdurman as well as in the central state of North Kordofan and in North Darfur, witnesses said.
Live streams on social media also showed protests in cities including Port Sudan, Kassala, Wad Madani and El Geneina.
The Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that spearheaded the uprising that culminated in al-Bashir’s removal, had called for the rallies and promised to carry on with protests until “the corrupt military junta is brought down and prosecuted for their crimes”.
The deal that Hamdok signed with the military on Sunday envisions an independent, technocratic Cabinet to be led by the prime minister until new elections are held. However, the government would still remain under military oversight. Hamdok said he would have the power to appoint ministers.
The agreement has angered Sudan’s pro-democracy movement, which accuses Hamdok of allowing himself to serve as a fig leaf for continued military rule.
While Hamdok’s reinstatement was a concession by military leader Burhan, key political parties and civilian groups say the army should play no role in politics.
The deal also stipulates that all political detainees arrested following the October 25 coup be released. So far, several ministers and politicians have been freed. The number of those still in detention remains unknown.
On Wednesday, Hamdok told a local Sudanese television channel that unless all are released, “the deal will be worthless.”
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reporting from Khartoum, said that protesters are demonstrating to also “express their anger at what they say was a betrayal by the prime minister for accepting to negotiate and to sign a deal with the military.
“Since the takeover, people have been demanding that the military completely step aside from the politics of the country and hand over power to a complete civilian government, restoring the position of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, releasing all political prisoners but also having no role in the day to day affairs of the country,” Morgan said.
“As per the agreement … political prisoners are supposed to be released. Only five have been released so far, dozens of others are still in detention and people are saying that they do not trust the military to honour that agreement especially since they say that the constitutional declaration which was signed between the Forces of Freedom and Change coalition – the civilian coalition – and the army has been sidelined.”