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Sudan Protests Demand End to Military Rule: “No Negotiation, No Partnership, No Legitimacy”

StoryJanuary 07, 2022
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We get an update from Sudan, where at least three pro-democracy protesters were killed by security forces on Thursday, bringing the death toll to at least 60 since the military coup on October 25. Thursday’s protest came four days following Abdalla Hamdok’s resignation as Sudan’s prime minister, after he was deposed in the October coup and then shortly restored to power by the military in November. However, protesters on the ground find Hamdok’s resignation insignificant and consider him irrelevant to the fight for full democratic control over the government, says Sudanese activist Marine Alneel, who joins us from Khartoum. The civilian slogan is now “no negotiation, no partnership, no legitimacy,” she explains, saying protesters are no longer interested in preserving the joint military-civilian governing deal signed after mass protests in 2019 that toppled longtime leader Omar al-Bashir. “In 2019, many people were displeased with the partnership, and now mostly people are outright rejecting any form of partnership with the military,” she says.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn now to Sudan, where at least three people were killed Thursday during protests against military rule. The demonstration came four days after Abdalla Hamdok resigned as Sudan’s prime minister. He was deposed in a military coup on October 25th and then restored to power in November by the military because of public outcry. But protesters have been demanding civilian rule in Sudan for years.

In 2019, mass mobilizations led to the toppling of Sudan’s longtime strongman Omar al-Bashir. A joint military-civilian governing council was then formed, but the military coup in October ended what was supposed to be a transition to civilian rule. According to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, at least 60 people have been killed by security forces since the coup in October.

We go now to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, where we’re joined by the Sudanese activist Marine Alneel.

Marine, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you talk about what’s happening in the streets, the mass protests, and this latest killing by security forces?

MARINE ALNEEL: Thank you, Amy Goodman, for shedding light on this. The current [inaudible] Sudan is that we have ongoing protests calling for a civilian government, calling for the military to go back to its barricades and to no longer be part of the political scene. We have now neighborhood resistance committees announcing the protest schedule by the month. So, we’ve had that in December, and now we have that for January.

And these protests have been faced by violent repression by military forces, police forces, rapid support forces and other militias and armed forces of the government. Protesters are facing tear gas, beatings, rubber bullets and live ammunition, and even anti-craft machinery. We’ve had a martyr that has died by this type of weapons.

And on the days of the scheduled and announced protests, what we see is that, from the night before, the bridges of the tri-capital city of Khartoum are barricaded with shipping containers to not allow the protesters to join each other in the tri-capital city. However, previously the protesters managed to overcome these containers peacefully.

And after the protests, usually we see the armed forces raiding hospitals, attacking doctors and other medical staff, even arresting some of the injured and sometimes chasing the vehicles that have tried to transport the injured from the protests to hospitals. One of the martyrs of yesterday’s protest was chased by armed forces when the other protesters tried to rescue him and transport him to a nearby hospital.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you lay out what has taken place with Hamdok resigning, the prime minister? And just lay out for us, give us a history of the — who’s running? Who are the people leading the uprising, first knocking out al-Bashir, and then this civilian-military partnership that ended in a military coup in October and the more demands for there to be civilian rule?

MARINE ALNEEL: So, in 2019, the Sudanese Professionals Association was leading the protests. The protests were — the main chants were being ”Hurriya, salam wa ’adala,” “freedom, peace and justice.” And that ended with the ousting of Omar al-Bashir, and then a power-sharing deal was signed between the Forces of Freedom and Change, which the Sudanese Professionals Association was part of. And that power-sharing deal led to the transitional government that has lasted for about two years and ended with the military coup on October 25th of 2020.

Now what the people are calling for is — the new slogans are “no negotiation, no partnership, no legitimacy.” So, people are no longer interested in any sort of partnership with the military. In 2019, many people were displeased with the partnership, and now mostly people are outright rejecting any form of partnership with the military. And currently, although we’re seeing on a lot of international media outlets that these protests are being called for by the Forces of Freedom and Change or the Sudanese Professionals Association, that is far from the reality. In reality, the entities that are leading this movement are the neighborhood resistance committees, which have developed mainly in 2019 to help organize the protests in neighborhoods, in different neighborhoods, and are now the leading entity announcing the protests and are actually the voice of the people, that is still saying “no negotiation, no partnership, no legitimacy.”

And now, as for Hamdok’s resignation, it has been mostly insignificant for the protests on the ground. And since he signed on November 21st a deal with General Lieutenant al-Burhan, the head of the military co-council, people have considered him the secretary of the coup. He was no longer relevant to the people. And when he signed that agreement as an individual, it’s more like a war contract with the coup rather than any agreement. So his resignation has been irrelevant to people. Some have chanted, “Whether he resigned or not, the schedule keeps going,” which is basically the schedule of the announced protests.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what are the demands right now? How are other African countries responding? And what are you calling on, what are activists calling on the West to do, and particularly the United States’ role?

MARINE ALNEEL: Currently the main demand is for the military to get out of the political scene. We are demanding a genuine civilian government, not a power-sharing deal of unequivalent parties, rather a genuinely civilian leadership. That is the main demand.

And what we’re seeing from international entities is that there’s some condemnation of the violent repression of the protests; however, with that comes an urging of the current authority to go back to the 2019 deal or to go back to a pre-coup state. And that’s not what the people are asking for. And that is not what will lead to stability. So, let’s say even, for example, if General Lieutenant al-Burhan manages to find a civilian to take over the role of the prime minister, that is still not what people are calling for. And definitely that will not lead to stability. More protests will continue on happening until we reach our demands to be genuinely met and the military to be out of power.

AMY GOODMAN: And the role of the World Bank and the IMF?

MARINE ALNEEL: Yeah. So, in essence, these protests and the demands of the people, whether before the coup or right now, it is about livelihood. And we’ve seen that the transitional government was not prioritizing the livelihood of the Sudanese people. And the military is definitely not prioritizing the livelihood of the Sudanese people. It is killing us. We now have 60 martyrs, at least, since the coup. And we now want a civilian leadership that will prioritize our livelihood and not the international interests of the IMF or the World Bank. And also we don’t want the military, that will also prioritize their own financial interests and their own clinging to power.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, the role of COVID? I mean, the bravery of everyone going out, facing the military and also dealing with this pandemic. We have 20 seconds.

MARINE ALNEEL: Yes. The protesters are trying to stick to some measures of wearing masks. What has been helping is that we’re already wearing the masks for tear gas. So you see most protesters are trying to take some measurements. However, considering the situation and the health — the state of the healthcare system here in Sudan, we are facing a lot of risk that is a combination of both the military attacking us and the risk that we put ourselves in, and our loved ones, with the COVID and the pandemic.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you so much for being with us. Marine, please stay safe. Marine Alneel, Sudanese activist, joining us from Khartoum, Sudan.

That does it for our show. Remember, wearing a mask is an act of love. I’m Amy Goodman.

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