Cairo ( Associated Press) — The United Nations envoy for Sudan on Sunday condemned the killing of two people in violent crackdowns against pro-democracy protesters who once again took to the streets of the capital to condemn an October military coup.
According to activists, hundreds of people marched on Saturday in Khartoum, where security forces violently dispersed the crowd and chased them through the streets.
UN envoy Volker Perth said on Twitter: “Shocked by the violent deaths of two young protesters in Khartoum yesterday, once again: the time has come to stop the violence.”
Both were killed during protests in Khartoum’s Kalakala neighborhood. According to the Sudan Doctors Committee, which is part of the pro-democracy movement, one was shot by security forces and the other succumbed to tear gas.
Perth urged military officials to lift the state of emergency imposed since the October 25 coup and to “find a peaceful way out of the current crisis”.
Sudan has since plunged into turmoil as the military takeover sustains 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 overthrown by the military in a popular uprising in April 2019.
Late on Sunday, the head of the ruling Sovereign Council, General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, lifted the state of emergency that had been 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 deciding on security matters, recommended the lifting of the state of emergency and the release of all detainees.
Defense Minister Major General Yasin Ibrahim Yasin said in a video statement, the recommendations were to facilitate dialogue between the military and the pro-democracy movement.
Saturday’s protests were part of relentless protests over the past seven months, calling on the military to hand over power to civilians. At least 98 people have been killed and more than 4,300 injured in the government crackdown on anti-coup protests since October, according to the medical group. Hundreds of activists and officials in the post-coup government were also detained, many later released under pressure from the United Nations and other Western governments.
The protesters are demanding the removal of the army from power. However, the generals have stated that they would hand over power only to an elected administration. They say elections will be held in July 2023 as planned in the constitutional document governing the transition period.
The United Nations, the African Union and the East African regional grouping of eight countries called the Intergovernmental Authority in Development are making 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 on Sunday amid tight security outside the Institute of Judicial and Legal Sciences in Khartoum. Dozens of protesters gathered in the area to demonstrate in support of the defendants.
The four were taken into custody in a raid after police colonel Ali Hamad was stabbed to death as security forces dispersed protesters on January 13. His defense attorney denies the allegations.
In Sunday’s proceedings, court judges ordered that the defendants be medically examined after their lawyers claimed they were tortured and abused in police custody. The hearing will begin on June 12.