Sudan: Streets Empty in Capital After Deadly Crackdown

Burning tires set by protesters near Khartoum’s army headquarters on Monday, where protest leaders claim at least 13 people were killed in the military’s assault. (AP Photo)

Streets in the Sudanese capital were empty on Tuesday, a day after a pro-democracy sit-in was overrun by the country’s ruling military authorities, who say they want to stage early elections.

Protest organizers say 35 people died in a crackdown by the military on Monday.

The military’s move to hold a vote within seven months cancels all agreements with protest leaders, who for months had been camped outside the military headquarters in Khartoum as the two sides negotiated over who would run the country after the April ouster of longtime strongman Omar al-Bashir.

The military council’s head, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, said the military will move to form an interim government to prepare for elections, which he said would be internationally supervised.

An Associated Press journalist saw protesters still building up barricades in the suburbs of Khartoum, even as security forces in the city center were not allowing any access to the former sit-in site, setting up checkpoints around the area.

Scattered by the bloody assault, the protesters have vowed to keep up their campaign, suspending talks and calling for a general strike and civil disobedience.

Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which has spearheaded the protests, said: “We are rejecting what Burhan said. Now, they have proved that they are a military coup.”

He called for the international community and the U.N. Security Council not to recognize Burhan or the military authorities and put pressure on the generals to hand over power to a civilian-led authority.

“We have no choice but to continue our protests and civil disobedience until the fall of the military council,” he added.

The U.N. Security Council is set to discuss the crackdown in Sudan on Tuesday afternoon in a closed-door session requested by the United Kingdom and Germany.

Burhan has said military leaders would investigate Monday’s violence. He didn’t mention security forces, but said protest leaders bore blame for the volatile situation because they have been “extending the negotiations and seeking to exclude other political and security forces” from participating in any transitional government, accusations rejected by al-Mustafa, the SPA spokesman said.

Activists said the assault appeared to be a coordinated move, with other forces attacking similar sit-ins in Khartoum’s sister city of Omdurman and the eastern city of al-Qadarif.

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