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Tear gas fired as thousands rally in Sudan anti-coup rally

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Thousands protested in Sudan’s capital Wednesday against last month’s coup, chanting “no to military power” in defiance of a crackdown that has already claimed 24 lives.

Several rallies broke out across Khartoum, even though telephone lines were cut and internet services disrupted since the October 25 military power grab, AFP journalists reported.

Security forces fired tear gas, injuring several protesters, witnesses said.

No to military rule” and “the people choose civilian rule”, demonstrators chanted, as well as slogans against Sudan’s ruler, top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

During protests on November 14, six people were killed and the chief of Qatari network Al Jazeera’s bureau in Khartoum was arrested before being released two days later.

The renewed protests came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Africans to watch out for rising threats to democracy as he began a three-nation tour of the continent in Kenya. “We have seen over the last decade or so what some call a democratic recession,” Blinken said in Nairobi.

Blinken told Sudan’s military the country stood to regain badly-needed international aid if it restores the “legitimacy” of civilian government. “It’s vital that the transition regain the legitimacy that it had,” he said.

“If the military puts this train back on its tracks and does what’s necessary, I think the support that has been very strong from the international community can resume.”

The United States has suspended some $700 million in assistance to Sudan in response to the coup, which halted a democratic transition that followed the 2019 toppling of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir.

Burhan declared a state of emergency, ousted the government and detained the civilian leadership.

The power grab has derailed a transition to full civilian rule and sparked international condemnation. Burhan insists the military’s move “was not a coup” but rather a push to “rectify the course of the transition”.

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee has been shuttling between the generals and the ousted civilian government in a bid to broker a way out of the crisis.

This comes as part of efforts to get Sudan’s transitional process, which began following the ouster of Bashir, back on track.

Prior to 2019, Sudan had been under some form of military dictatorship for much of its modern history.

But Burhan has shown no sign of being willing to walk back his measures, which saw him arrest several civilian members of the transitional government.

The military leader last week announced a new Sovereign Council, the highest transitional authority, with himself as chief and all nine military members keeping their posts.

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