By John Ikani
Thousands of Sudanese rallied in the capital of Khartoum on Thursday to demand an exclusively civilian transitional government and accused the generals now in power of derailing the transition to democracy.
An estimated 20,000 people, many of whom came by train from Atbara and Madani, gathered in the capital on Thursday.
A crowd of thousands celebrated the arrival of the Madani train, climbing on top, waving national flags and chanting, “the army is Sudan’s army, not Burhan’s army” – a reference to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of Sudan’s military and its governing Sovereign Council.
“We came today to block any coup and achieve civilian rule,” said Eman Salih, a 22-year-old university student. “We will not allow the military to control our revolution.”
Security forces later fired volleys of tear gas to break up the gathering, according to the Reuters news agency.
An attempted coup last week, which officials blamed on soldiers loyal to the previous government of Omar al-Bashir, laid bare divisions between military and civilian groups sharing power during a transition that is meant to run to 2023 and lead to elections.
After last week’s coup attempt, civilian officials accused military leaders of overstepping their bounds, while generals criticized civilian management of the economy and political process and said their forces were neglected and disrespected.
“The objective of these marches is to protect Sudan’s democratic transition and there is no way to achieve that without ending any partnership with the military council,” said a statement issued by the Sudanese Professionals Association, which had called for the rallies earlier this week.
The military removed Bashir in April 2019 after months of protests triggered by an economic crisis. It then signed a power-sharing deal with the civilian Forces of Freedom and Change Coalition (FCC).
The FFC supported Thursday’s demonstrations, which converged on the central Khartoum headquarters of a task force working to dismantle the Bashir administration.