Internet access in Sudan interrupted ahead of anti-coup rallies

CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese security forces shot dead eight people Thursday during anti-coup protests, a medical group said as thousands marched to denounce the country’s military rulers and demand an immediate transfer power to civilians.

The Sudan Doctors Committee said in a tweet that six people were shot and killed when police fired live ammunition at protesters in Omdurman, the twin city of Sudan’s capital Khartoum.

Across the Nile in Khartoum, another person died of a gunshot wound to the head and a child died after being shot in the chest, according to the group, which tracks victims during protests. The identities of the eight were not immediately known.

Also in Khartoum, police fired tear gas at thousands of demonstrators trying to reach the Republican Palace, the seat of military power in the heart of the city. Videos showing thousands of people waving Sudanese flags and running under clouds of tear gas have been posted on social media.

Other videos show protesters raising banners reading “No Negotiations!” No partnership” – reiterating their opposition to any power-sharing deal with military rulers.

Sudan’s main pro-democracy groups – the Forces for Freedom and Change Declaration and the Resistance Committees – had called for a nationwide protest on Thursday to reiterate their demands for the quashing of the October 25 military coup. The takeover upended the East African country’s short-lived transition to democracy following the 2019 ouster of longtime autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir.

Thursday’s protests also marked the third anniversary of a mass rally in 2019 that forced the generals to sit down at the negotiating table with pro-democracy groups and ultimately sign a power-sharing deal that was to govern Sudan for a period of transition, until general elections were to take place. Last October’s coup shattered this arrangement.

“We are very, very seriously concerned about the continued use of excessive force by government security forces in Sudan as they respond to protests and in particular what we have seen today,” the spokesperson said. UN speech Stéphane Dujarric in New York. “It is imperative that people are allowed to express themselves freely and peacefully, and security forces in all countries should be there to protect people’s right to do so, not to hinder it.”

Meanwhile, London-based internet advocacy group NetBlocks said internet access was disrupted on Thursday across many mobile and fixed internet providers in Sudan, including the state-owned operator Sudantel, leaving national connectivity at only 17% of its ordinary level. Internet service shutdowns were regularly recorded before most anti-coup protests.

“NetBlocks recommends against using network disruptions and social media restrictions to counter protests, given their disproportionate impact on fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,” the group said. based in London.

The October coup sparked near-weekly street protests, which authorities have met with a deadly crackdown that has so far killed 111 people, including Thursday’s victims. Among those killed were 18 children, according to the Committee of Doctors.

Hundreds of people, including prominent politicians and activists, have been arrested, although many were released recently as part of confidence-building measures.

Since the coup, the UN political mission in Sudan, the African Union and the group of eight countries of the East African Regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development have tried to find a way out of the political deadlock. Earlier this month, the main pro-democracy group finally agreed to sit with the generals in a meeting brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

However, no breakthrough materialized as a result of these talks.

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