Hamdok “may resign soon” as hundreds march on the presidential palace.
Despite internet and phone service outages, thousands of Sudanese took part in major rallies against the military rule on Saturday.
Meanwhile, reports have said that Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok wants to withdraw from his power-sharing deal with the army and resign as a result of the government’s continuous brutality against anti-coup protestors.
Thousands marched on the presidential palace in Khartoum’s streets, hoisting Sudanese flags and called on the military to “return to the barracks.” Organizers labeled it a “million-man march,” and it was scheduled to finish at 5 p.m. (15:00 GMT).
The prime minister is highly unhappy, particularly after the use of violence against protestors and the escalating tactics of disconnecting the internet, phone calls, and SMS messages, “says a source close to the government.” – From a Sudanese source
Tear gas was used by security personnel to disperse some protesters, and internet and phone connections were shut off.
The internet was previously shut down for a month after the 25 October coup, in which Sudan’s army leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, deposed the hybrid military-civilian administration and temporarily imprisoned Hamdok.
Since then, civilian groups and activists have staged a number of large-scale rallies against conversation or collaboration with Burhan.
Protests persisted even after Burhan reinstalled Hamdok on November 21 in line with a pact pledging elections in 2023, as many of the prime minister’s supporters accused him of abandoning the pro-democracy movement by lending legitimacy to the military coup leaders.
According to the Doctors’ Committee, security forces have responded to demonstrations with violence, resulting in the deaths of at least 48 persons.
On Friday, the Information and Communication Technology Syndicate issued a warning against interrupting internet services, calling it “another crime and violation that would be joined to previous breaches by the coup leaders” and claiming that the action intends to “conceal [their] crimes.”
According to Reuters, which quoted a telecoms network official, the internet and phone services are being disrupted due to a decision made by the official National Telecommunications Corporation.
In other words, “One of the biggest marches is the Khartoum march. A significant number of people are shouting loudly. This demonstrates that the revolution is ongoing and growing in strength.”
On Tuesday, Hamdok informed political leaders of his intention to quit in the face of a public outcry against his pact with the army. The agreement called for the release of political prisoners as well as the creation of a technocratic administration.
On Saturday, two people close to Hamdok said, on the condition of anonymity, that he wanted to quit “very soon.”
“The prime minister is highly agitated,” one source said, “particularly after the repetition of violence against protestors and the escalated tactics of disconnecting the internet, phone calls, and SMS messages.”
According to the reports, the premier sought to quit two days ago, but a number of lawmakers intervened, urging him to back down.
“There are a number of disputes between Hamdok and the military, as well as between him and the revolutionary movements, over their participation in the cabinet,” another source said, explaining that political forces’ participation in the upcoming cabinet violated the November agreement with the military.
On the third anniversary of the beginnings of major protests that culminated in the removal of long-time President Omar al-Bashir, tens of thousands took to the streets last Sunday, December 19.
Security forces reacted violently to the demonstration, murdering at least two individuals, while the UN reported 13 rapes on December 19 alone.
‘This cat-and-mouse street fight will finish with the protestors’ triumph, or we will die in front of the palace,’ says one demonstrator.
On Saturday, a large number of demonstrators tried to access the palace, but they were repelled by police and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.
According to eyewitnesses, “cat-and-mouse” street combat erupted between security personnel and protestors until late in the afternoon, with several protesters injured.
Abdul Halim Osman, 45, said that the demonstrators want to organize a sit-in in front of the presidential palace until the military-led by Burhan is deposed.
“This cat-and-mouse street fight will either finish with the demonstrators’ triumph or we will perish in front of the palace,” he added.
Another protester, Omdurman’s Amar Hassan, stated that hundreds of people had crossed the bridge between Khartoum and its twin city, Omdurman, to join the protestors in front of the palace.
Since early Saturday, members of the Rapid Support Forces, police, and other security forces have been heavily stationed throughout Khartoum in preparation for demonstrations.
The military shut down major roadways and bridges, as well as routes leading to the presidential palace, Khartoum’s center, and airport districts.
According to the SUNA official news agency, the province of Khartoum halted bridges on Friday evening.
“Departing from peace, approaching and intruding on sovereign and key places in downtown Khartoum is a breach of the laws,” a provincial security coordination committee was quoted as saying by SUNA.
“Chaos and abuses will be addressed,” it stated.
The UN Special Envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, has asked the government to “guard” the protesters.
“Freedom of speech is a human right,” Perthes said on Saturday, adding that “complete access” to the internet is also included. “No one should be detained just for wishing to demonstrate peacefully.”