Sudanese Protest Coup

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) -- Pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Sudan on Saturday to denounce the military's takeover of the country and the ruling generals' tightening grip on power despite outcries from the United States and other Western governments.

Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in different locations in the capital of Khartoum, activists said.

The rallies, called by the pro-democracy movement, came two days after coup leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan reappointed himself head of the Sovereign Council, Sudan's interim governing body.

Thursday's move angered the pro-democracy alliance and frustrated the U.S. and other countries that have urged the generals to reverse their coup.

The Sudanese military seized power Oct. 25, dissolving the transitional government and arresting dozens of officials and politicians. The coup has drawn international criticism and massive protests in the streets of Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.

The takeover upended the country's fragile planned transition to democratic rule, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government.

Saturday's protests were called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the so-called Resistance Committees. Both groups were primary forces behind the popular uprising against al-Bashir in April 2019. Other political parties and movements joined the call.

Both groups have opposed the return to the power-sharing deal that established the deposed transitional government late in 2019. They demand the handover of the government to civilians to lead the transition to democracy.

Protesters rallied in Khartoum neighborhoods, waving Sudanese flag and photos of deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok who has been under house arrest since the coup. They also chanted "civilian, civilian," in reference to their main demand that the generals hand over power to civilians.

Security forces used tear gas to disperse protesters in different locations in Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, according to the protest organizers. Later, the protesters in Khartoum regrouped and barricaded at least one major street with stones and burning tiresNo causalities were reported. There were also protests in other Sudanese cities and towns.

The demonstrations took place amid tight security in Khartoum. Authorities had closed off bridges over the Nile River linking the capital's neighborhoods. Troops and paramilitary forces also sealed off the area around the military headquarters, where thousands of protesters set up camp in April 2019, forcing the military to remove al-Bashir.

The U.N. envoy in Sudan, Volker Perthes, urged security forces to "exercise utmost restraint" and called for demonstrators to "maintain the principle of peaceful protest."

Since the Oct. 25 takeover, at least 14 anti-coup protesters have been killed due to excessive force used by the country's security forces, according to Sudanese doctors and the United Nations. Ongoing mediation efforts are seeking a way out of the crisis.

Perthes said he held "good discussions" Friday with representatives of the protest movement in Khartoum, civil society activists and Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, a civilian member of the council dissolved in the coup. Nasredeen Abdulbari, justice minister of the deposed government, also took part.