Pro-democracy protests set to mark Sudan coup anniversary despite crackdown
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On the first anniversary of a coup that derailed Sudan's transition to civilian rule, pro-democracy activists are urging yet more protests Tuesday against military rule, as hunger and inflation throttle the country.
A year ago to the day, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan seized power, arresting the civilian leaders with whom he had agreed to share power in 2019, when mass protests compelled the army to depose one of its own, long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Near weekly anti-coup protests have been met with force, most recently on Sunday when a protester was killed by a bullet fired by security forces, according to pro-democracy medics.
At least 118 people have been killed while demanding a return to civilian rule, a condition for Western governments to resume crucial aid they had halted in response to the coup.
Cut off from such aid, Sudan – already one of the world's poorest countries – has plunged into a worsening economic crisis.
Between three-digit inflation and chronic food shortages, a third of Sudan's 45 million inhabitants suffer from hunger, a 50 percent increase compared to 2021, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
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The cost of food staples has jumped 137 percent in one year, which the WFP says has forced Sudanese to spend "more than two-thirds of their income on food alone, leaving little money to cover other needs".
Even as they struggle with ever-declining purchasing power, many in the country worry that three years after the 2019 uprising that toppled Bashir, signs point to a reversal of their revolution.
Since the coup, several Bashir-era loyalists have been appointed to official positions, including in the judiciary, which is currently trying the former dictator.
The country is mired in uncertainty. Burhan's pledge of elections next year is seen as far-fetched. No civilian leaders have taken up the mantle of the army chief's promised civilian government and international mediation efforts remain stalled.
"Sudan doesn't have the luxury of zero-sum games and political manoeuvres," UN envoy to Sudan Volker Perthes tweeted Saturday. "All political actors need to put aside differences and focus on the best interest of the Sudanese people."
Thousands had taken to the streets Friday to demand "the fall of the regime", also marking the 58th anniversary of the first uprising that toppled a military dictatorship in a country with a coup-riddled history.
Sudan has enjoyed only brief spells of democratic rule over the decades.
Calls for protest on Tuesday insist "the revolution continues".
"The demonstrations on October 25 will herald the irrevocable end of the putschist era," read a call for protest shared by pro-democracy activists online.
"It will be the foundation of a new Sudan we build together, a politically and economically free Sudan, a civil democratic Sudan."
On Friday, 31 protesters were injured, including three who were hit in the eye by tear gas canisters, according to pro-democracy medics who have kept a tally of those wounded and killed in protests since the coup.
Western embassies on Monday urged security forces "to refrain from using violence against protesters and to fulfil their obligation to protect freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly", in a statement condemning "the loss of another protester's life" on Sunday.
Even as security forces are mobilised to counter protests, a broader security breakdown nationwide has left nearly 600 dead and more than 210,000 displaced as a result of ethnic violence, according to the UN.
Thousands in Sudan's southern Blue Nile state, which borders South Sudan and Ethiopia, took to the streets on Monday, accusing local government of failing to protect them.
According to the UN, "unconfirmed reports indicate that some 250 people were killed" in the span of two days last week, in the latest bout of ethnic violence in the state.
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