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Sudanese security forces fire tear gas at pro-democracy protesters

Thousands of protesters in Khartoum are demanding an end to military rule and justice for those killed since last year’s coup.

Khartoum, South Sudan – Sudanese security forces have fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters in Khartoum as they mark the fourth anniversary of the uprising that finally ousted President Omar al-Bashir.

Protesters draped themselves in Sudanese flags on Monday and carried signs calling for military leaders to be held accountable for killing 120 people since they consolidated power in a coup on Oct. 25, 2021.

While no one was reported to have died on Monday, many young people were taken to a hospital in the capital where they received treatment for injuries sustained in the march.

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Mohamad Amin was parked outside the hospital after transporting an injured protester on his motorcycle.

“The police are violent,” he told Al Jazeera. “The young man I brought to the hospital was hit on the back of the head with a tear gas canister.”

Failed political agreement?

The protest was led by the Resistance Committees, which are against an agreement signed this month by security forces and political elites. These neighborhood groups leading Sudan’s pro-democracy movement denounced the deal as a betrayal of the central demands of the 2018-2019 uprising, such as transitional justice and security sector reform.

“The deal has already failed,” said Menjan Hamza, 22, who participated in the march on Monday. “The [security forces and politicians] We made a pact, but what about our martyrs? No one was convicted for the murders. [security forces] committed in the last year.

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The global community still supports the deal as a “positive step” toward restoring a transition to democracy. Diplomats hope that the second part of the deal, which politicians and security officials are supposed to agree to next month, will address outstanding issues.

“On the Anniversary of the December revolution, I hope that the political process will realize the demands and aspirations of the Sudanese men and women who took to the streets four years ago and continue to fight for a future of peace, democracy, human rights and citizenship. equality,” tweeted Volker Perthes, the UN envoy to Sudan.

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Empty promises

The army cast doubt on the future of the deal after its top general, Abdel Fatah al-Burhan, told soldiers last week that civilians would never have control of the armed forces.

The military in Sudan controls the country’s lucrative civilian sectors, which critics say sabotages its economy. Members of the armed forces also enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution under the law, according to the human rights group Redress.

“Don’t listen to what politicians say about military reform; … no one will interfere in army affairs at all,” al-Burhan told the state news broadcaster on Wednesday.

Kholood Khair, founding director of the Khartoum-based think tank Confluence Advisory, told Al Jazeera that al-Burhan’s apparent refusal to honor his end of the bargain is precisely what foreign observers should have expected.

“This is a framework agreement where [the military] says all the good things but really has no intention of implementing them,” he said. “So for me, this is totally on the mark. Al-Burhan says one thing, or signs one thing, and does another.”

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Several protesters also told Al Jazeera that they have no faith that al-Burhan or other security figures who backed his coup will easily relinquish power.

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They said the real problem is that the security forces and the agreement signed this month are supported mainly by regional and Western countries that have their own strategic and economic interests in Sudan.

“This government that we have is an external government, but we want a government for the people,” said Mohamad Ibrahim, a protester holding a Sudanese flag aloft. “We want a revolutionary government that supports everyone.”

Al Jazeera tried several times to reach the police spokesman, Brigadier General Abdallah Bashir al-Badri, for comment, but he did not reply.

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