Sudan’s Burhan relieves ambassadors in Turkey, UAE, South Africa

Telecommunication services interrupted ahead of a planned protest

By Agencies

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People protest in Khartoum against a military coup. — AP
People protest in Khartoum against a military coup. — AP

Published: Sat 30 Oct 2021, 3:14 AM

Sudan’s armed forces chief General Abdel Fatah Al Burhan relieved a number of diplomats on Saturday, according to media reports.

Expelled diplomats include ambassadors to the UAE, Turkey and South Africa, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV reported.

Meanwhile, Dubai-based Al Hadath television channel said telecommunication services were interrupted in Sudan, hours before a planned protest by opponents of the military coup.

Nationwide protests were called to demand the restoration of a civilian-led government to put the country back on a path to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule.

Thousands of Sudanese have already taken to the streets this week against the coup led by General Burhan, who dissolved Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s cabinet in a coup that has led Western states to freeze hundreds of millions in aid.

With at least 11 protesters killed in clashes with security forces this week, opponents of the junta fear a full-blown crackdown and more bloodshed.

“The army should go back to its barracks and give the leadership to Hamdok,” said an activist who gave his name as Mohamed, who plans to protest. “Our demand is a civilian country, a democratic country, nothing less than that.”

The United States, which is calling for the restoration of the civilian-led government, said how the army reacts on Saturday will be a test of its intentions.

“We call on the security forces to refrain from any and all violence against protesters and to fully respect the citizens’ right to demonstrate peacefully,” said a senior State Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity.

With internet and phone lines restricted by the authorities, opponents of the coup have sought to mobilise for the protest using fliers, SMS messages, graffiti, and neighbourhood rallies.

Neighbourhood-based resistance committees, active since the uprising against deposed President Omar Al Bashir that began in December 2018, have been central to organising despite the arrests of key politicians.

Khartoum committee activist Hussam Ibnauf said the protest date had been well-advertised and he was confident of a big turnout.

“Everyone on the street ... they know about October 30. If they know, the rest is easy,” he said.

There was now “no fear factor”, he said.

Burhan has said he removed the cabinet to avert civil war after civilian politicians stoked hostility to the armed forces.

He says he is still committed to a democratic transition, including elections in July 2023.

Hamdok, an economist, was initially held at Burhan’s residence when soldiers rounded up the government on Monday, but was allowed to return home under guard on Tuesday.

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