Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Sudan's capital of Khartoum on Tuesday, marking the first anniversary of a military coup that upended the nation’s short-lived transition to democracy.
Videos published on social media showed marchers with flags and drums, most of them bound for the Presidential Palace. Other footage showed protesters standing in front of convoys of security forces.
Netblocks, an online network tracker, announced early Tuesday that internet services across the country were blocked. Various Sudanese pro-democracy activists and local journalists reported security forces fired tear gas at protesters and earlier closed off bridges leading into Khartoum. The Associated Press has been unable to verify these claims.
Since its takeover, the military has cracked down and suppressed near-weekly pro-democracy marches, with as many as 118 protesters killed, according to statistics published by the Sudan Doctors Committee.
Sudan’s top general, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and paramilitary deputy Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo were meant to oversee a democratic transition after Sudan's longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was toppled in a popular uprising in 2019.
But last year, Burhan dissolved the ruling Sovereign Council, arrested the transitional prime minister and unseated the civilian faction of a power-sharing government that had been in place. He later said he acted to stop a civil war.
Rights groups say hundreds have been detained since the military takeover, many without charge.
In recent weeks, internationally backed talks between Sudan’s pro-democracy movement and the ruling military have made some progress.
According to The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change — an alliance of political parties and protest groups — the military has agreed on a draft constitutional document written by the country’s Bar Association. This would allow the appointment of a civilian prime minister who would lead the country through elections by 2024.
But Sudan’s more ardent pro-democracy groups, including the grassroots Resistance Committees who spearhead anti-coup street protests, reject any settlement with the military. Along with the Communist Party, they have demanded that those responsible for the year's deadly crackdown on demonstrations be tried in court.
“I have no trust in the army’s intentions, the new negotiation is just a new division of wealth and power,” said Ammar Yahya, the spokesperson for a Khartoum branch of the Resistance Committees.
The coup has plunged Sudan’s already inflation-riddled economy into deeper peril. International aid has dried up while bread and fuel shortages, caused in part by the war in Ukraine, have become increasingly routine.
The year has also seen a resurgence of deadly tribal clashes in the country’s neglected peripheries. Fierce clashes between the Hausa and Berta people last week killed at least 230 people in southern Blue Nile province.
Many analysts consider the rising violence in the south a product of the power vacuum caused by the military takeover, with the ruling generals' clampdown focused on the center of power, Khartoum and the country's heartland, while the peripheries descend into chaos.
Burhan and Dagalo have separately promised to step back from politics following the reinstatement of a civilian government.