Sudan army supporters in new show of force in Khartoum

AFP , Saturday 5 Feb 2022

Thousands of supporters of Sudan's army rallied Saturday in front of UN headquarters in Khartoum, in a new show of force after months of protests against an October military takeover.

Supporters of the Sudanese army rally outside the office of the United Nations mission, west of Sudan s capital Khartoum, on February 5, 2022. AFP

Competing processions marched in Khartoum, according to AFP journalists -- a sign of the deep divisions that have taken root in the country, which is among the poorest in the world.

Army supporters, some of them riding camels, chanting slogans denouncing "foreign interference" and paying tribute to the military.

Hundreds of army backers had boarded a train in Atbara, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of the capital, to join the procession on Saturday morning.

Dozens of anti-army protesters tried in vain to prevent them from boarding the train, demanding that the "military return to the barracks" and shouting "power to the people", Abu Obeida Ahmed, a resident of Atbara, told AFP.

Meanwhile, hundreds of women demonstrated in the capital's twin city of Omdurman, denouncing a crackdown by security forces on anti-takeover demonstrators that has killed at least 76 people and wounded hundreds, according to a pro-democracy group of medics.

The latest protest come as the UN has launched talks to help Sudan resolve the political crisis that was triggered by the takeover.

Last month the UN's Sudan envoy Volker Perthes said the consultations aimed "to support the Sudanese to reach an agreement on a way out of the current crisis". But he added that "the UN is not coming up with any project, draft or vision for a solution".

Sudan has been gripped by regular mass protests since the October 25 military takeover led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The military takeover, one of several in Sudan's post-independence history, derailed a fragile power-sharing arrangement between the army and civilians that had been painstakingly negotiated after the 2019 ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Army supporters are seeking to cement the post-takeover status, while opponents have refused any initiatives for dialogue or partnership with the military.

Last week, pro-military protesters also rallied outside the UN offices in Khartoum, chanting "Down, down UN".

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