By Samy Magdy,
The Associated Press
The U.N. envoy for Sudan on May 29 decried the killing of two people in a violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters who once again took to the streets of the capital to denounce an October military coup.
Hundreds of people marched May 28 in Khartoum, where security forces violently dispersed the crowds and chased them in the streets, according to activists.
“I am appalled by the violent death of two young protesters in Khartoum yesterday. Once again: it is time for the violence to stop,” said Volker Perthes, the U.N. envoy, on Twitter.
The two were killed during protests in Khartoum’s Kalakla neighborhood. One was shot dead by security forces and the other suffocated after inhaling tear gas, according to the Sudan Doctors Committee, which is part of the pro-democracy movement.
Perthes urged military authorities to lift the state of emergency imposed since the Oct. 25 coup and find a “peaceful way out of the current crisis.”
Sudan has been plunged into turmoil since the military takeover upended its short-lived transition to democracy after three decades of repressive rule by former strongman Omar al-Bashir. Al-Bashir and his Islamist-backed government were removed by the military in a popular uprising in April 2019.
Late Sunday, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, lifted the state of emergency which was imposed across the country following the October coup, the council said in a brief statement.
Burhan’s decision came hours after the Security and Defense Council, Sudan’s highest body that decides on security matters, recommended the lifting of the state of emergency and the release of all detainees.
The recommendations were meant to facilitate dialogue between the military and the pro-democracy movement, said Defense Minister Maj. Gen. Yassin Ibrahim Yassin in a video statement.
Saturday’s protests were part of relentless demonstrations in the past seven months calling for the military to hand over power to civilians. At least 98 people have been killed and over 4,300 wounded in the government crackdown on anti-coup protests since October, according to the medical group. Hundreds of activists and officials in the disposed government were also detained following the coup, many were later released under pressure from the U.N. and other western governments.
The protesters demand the removal of the military from power. The generals, however, have said they will only hand over power to an elected administration. They say elections will take place in July 2023 as planned in a constitutional document governing the transition period.
The U.N., the African Union and the eight-nation east African regional group called the Intergovernmental Authority in Development have been leading concerted efforts to bridge the gap between the two sides and find a way out of the impasse.
Meanwhile, the trial of four activists accused of killing a senior police officer during a protest earlier this year began May 29 amid tight security outside the Judicial and Legal Science Institute in Khartoum. Dozens of protesters gathered in the area in a show of support for the defendants.
The four were detained in raids after police Col. Ali Hamad was stabbed to death as security forces dispersed protesters on Jan. 13. Their defense lawyers deny the allegations.
The court’s judges in Sunday’s proceedings ordered the defendants be medically examined after their lawyers claimed they were tortured and mistreated in police detention. The trial resumes June 12.
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