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Protests planned as Sudan military tightens grip after coup

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan’s pro-democracy alliance called for mass protests Saturday against the military’s takeover as the generals tighten their grip amid an outcry by the U.S. and other Western governments.

The protests come two days after coup leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan reappointed himself head of the Sovereign Council, Sudan’s interim governing body.

Thursday’s move angered the pro-democracy alliance and frustrated the U.S. and other countries that have urged the generals to reverse their coup.

The Sudanese military seized power Oct. 25, dissolving the transitional government and arresting dozens of officials and politicians. The coup has drawn international criticism and massive protests in the streets of Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.

The takeover upended the country’s fragile planned transition to democratic rule, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government.

Saturday’s protests were called by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association and the so-called Resistance Committees. Both groups were primary forces behind a popular the uprising against al-Bashir in April 2019. Other political parties and movements joined the call.

Both groups have opposed the return to the power-sharing deal that established the deposed transitional government late in 2019. They demand the handover of the government to civilians to lead the transition to democracy.

The U.N. envoy in Sudan, Volker Perthes, urged security forces to “exercise utmost restraint” during the planned protests and called for demonstrators to “maintain the principle of peaceful protest.”

Since the takeover, at least 14 anti-coup protesters have been killed due to excessive force used by the country’s security forces, according to Sudanese doctors and the United Nations.

Ongoing mediation efforts seek to find a way out of the crisis.

Perthes said he held “good discussions” Friday with representatives from the resistance committees in Khartoum, civil society activists and Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, who was a civilian member of the dissolved sovereign council. Nasredeen Abdulbari, justice minister of the deposed government, also took part.