On November 7, the Sudan military’s second in command, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, said on Facebook that the army is committed to Sudan’s democratic transition. Dagalo is widely known by the name Hemedti and heads the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Dagalo echoed comments by his boss, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, who has maintained that the October 25 military takeover he led aims to maintain the security and prevent a civil war. Still, large numbers of Sudanese reportedly took to the streets nationwide to protest the coup.
“We assure our full respect for our young men and women’s right to the freedom of expression and democratic peaceful protest, and we work on protecting and securing the protests according to the law,” Dagalo said.
That is false. According to multiple news reports, the army used tear gas to break up the protests while arresting scores of protesters. So far, 14 demonstrators were killed and about 300 were wounded, according to an estimate by the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors.
Last weekend, protesters erected barricades in the center of the capital Khartoum, demanding that the military restore the civilian government.
But the Sudanese security forces again responded violently, using tear gas and arresting more than 100 civilians. Internet and phone connections were also interrupted, limiting the protesters’ ability to communicate.
Most of those arrested were teachers and education workers who protested outside the education ministry in Khartoum.
On November 2, Clement Voule, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the right to peaceful assembly and association, denounced the Sudanese army’s crackdown.
“As people have mobilised and staged peaceful assemblies across Sudan, demanding that the military reinstate the civilian government, I have received disturbing reports of unlawful killings and injuries, including as a result of the use of live ammunition to disperse protesters, and beating of protesters by military and security personnel,” Voule said in a prepared statement.
Following the coup, mediation efforts have been led by the U.N. The military released four ministers who had been arrested.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, however, is still under house arrest in the capital. Hamdok has demanded “guarantees” that the military will reconstitute a pre-coup power-sharing arrangement that had been expected to return the country to civilian control this month.
Sudan’s pro-democracy movement emerged in December 2018, amid growing protests over the poor economy. Discontent spread with demands for the ouster of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir.
In April 2019, Sudan’s military removed al-Bashir and declared a state of emergency. The African Union then brokered a power-sharing deal between pro-democracy forces and the military, with a transition to civilian rule and elections in 2023.
Following the coup, the African Union Peace and Security Council suspended Sudan’s pending restoration of civilian authority. The United States blocked $700 million in financial aid, and U.S. President Joe Biden denounced the military coup.