Violence Overshadows Sudan’s Transition Push

May 15, 2019 Updated: May 15, 2019

KHARTOUM—Sudan’s opposition alliance blamed military rulers on May 14 for renewed street violence complicating efforts to negotiate a handover to civilian power after last month’s overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir.

At least four people died and dozens were injured during protests on May 13 as the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and opposition Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) said they had reached a partial agreement for transition.

Gunfire rang out in the capital into the night after paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—whose head is deputy of the military council—had patrolled the streets using tear gas and guns to disrupt demonstrations.

The protesters, who want to keep pressure on the military for a swift handover, were back on May 14, blocking roads and bridges with bricks and rocks, images on social media showed.

“The bullets that were fired yesterday were Rapid Support Forces bullets and we hold the military council responsible for what happened yesterday,” Khalid Omar Youssef, a senior figure in the DFCF, told a news conference.

“While they claimed that a third party was the one who did so, eyewitnesses confirmed that the party was in armed forces vehicles and in armed forces uniforms, so the military council must reveal this party.”


Ongoing Protests

May 13 fatalities were the first in protests for several weeks after months of demonstrations led to Bashir’s fall.

The victims included a military police officer and three demonstrators, state TV said. An opposition-linked doctors’ committee revised its death toll from six to four, citing a mix-up in counting the bodies of victims.

The TMC, which took over after ousting the long-ruling Bashir last month, blamed the violence on saboteurs unhappy with the transition accord.

“There are groups ambushing the revolution who were disturbed by the results reached today and are working to abort any agreement,” it said in a statement late on May 13.

The opposition and TMC were meeting again on May 14 to discuss two sticking points: the military-civilian balance of power in transitional bodies, and the time frame for elections.

Talks would wrap up on May 15, Youssef said.

The United States backed the opposition alliance in pinning the blame for May 13 chaos on the military for trying to remove roadblocks set up by protesters.

“The decision by security forces to escalate the use of force, including the unnecessary use of tear gas, led directly to the unacceptable violence later in the day that the TMC was unable to control,” said the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.

One hospital in Khartoum said it received more than 60 wounded on May 13 as well as three dead bodies.

Some arrived with gunshot wounds in the shoulder, chest and other body parts, Amar Abu Bakr, executive director of the Moalem Medical City Hospital, told Reuters.

“There are also a number of wounds resulting from sharp objects, and others from beatings by sticks.”

Raed Mubarak, a protester who was wounded, said a shooter was about 20 meters (22 yards) away when he took aim. “He shot at my chest … he meant to kill me, not to scare or terrorize,” he said.

By Nadine Awadalla