A leading Sudanese protest group has rejected a UN initiative to hold talks with the military.
Security forces have fired tear gas as thousands rallied in Sudan’s capital Khartoum and a neighbouring city, keeping up the pressure on the military following a coup 11 weeks ago.
The coup, led by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25, derailed a power-sharing transition between the military and civilians that had been painstakingly established in the wake of the overthrow of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
Security forces fired tear gas as pro-democracy protesters headed towards the presidential palace on Sunday, amid roadblocks seeking to prevent people converging there and at army headquarters – the epicentre of mass demonstrations that forced al-Bashir out.
Protesters also rallied in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, as well as northern Khartoum.
Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reporting from Omdurman, said crowds have started to gather despite a heavy security presence.
“Tear gas has been used against thousands of protesters in central Khartoum. They were marching towards the presidential palace. They tried to reach the palace but couldn’t, as usual. They were pushed back security forces,” Vall said.
“In Omdurman, the crowd is picking up. They are behind schedule. They usually start early. They, too, are trying to march towards central Khartoum. To get there they will have to cross bridges which are closed and manned by security forces. Security forces are waiting for them in big numbers,” he added.
The protests since the coup – one of several power grabs in Sudan’s post-independence history – has been met with a crackdown that has killed at least 60 people, according to medics.
Authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition in confronting protesters and insist dozens of security personnel have been wounded during demonstrations that have often “deviated from peacefulness”.
Medics in white coats were seen joining Sunday’s rallies to protest against the security forces’ storming of hospitals and medical facilities during previous demonstrations.
The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, affiliated with the protest movement, said on Saturday that medics will deliver a memorandum to United Nations officials listing and complaining about “assaults” against such facilities.
Last week, Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned saying the country was at a “dangerous crossroads threatening its very survival”.
He had taken up his position back only on November 21, having originally been deposed along with his government in the October coup.
On Saturday, the UN said it would facilitate talks between key Sudanese stakeholders in a bid to resolve the crisis.
But the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), the civilian alliance which spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir and became integral to the transition government, said it had not received “any details” about the UN initiative.
On Sunday, the Sudanese Professionals Association – similarly instrumental in the anti-al-Bashir protests – said it completely “rejected” the UN-facilitated talks.
“The way to resolve the Sudanese crisis begins with the complete overthrow of the putschist military council and the handover of its members to face justice over the killings committed against the defenceless [and] peaceful Sudanese people,” the SPA said in a statement.
Al-Burhan has insisted that the October military takeover “was not a coup” but only meant to “rectify the course of the Sudanese transition”.
The UN Security Council is to meet on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in Sudan.