“We will not go back to dictatorship,” said 21-year-old Solafa Mohammed covered in the Sudanese flag during a protest in the capital, Khartoum.
“We went out to say that we are alert and protecting our revolution.”
Mohammed was among tens of thousands of protesters who rallied on Thursday in support of Sudan’s transition to civilian rule.
They came to counter a pro-military protest camped outside the presidential palace in central Khartoum since Saturday.
The pro-civilian rule demonstrations occurred across the country from Port Sudan in the east to the Darfur region in the west.
They were reminiscent of the late 2018-2019 protests that erupted against the three-decade rule of then-president Omar al-Bashir, who was deposed in April 2019.
Many were dancing, singing, and chanting against senior military figures who have shared power with civilians since August 2019.
On a dusty red lot in Khartoum, they flew Sudanese flags, some of them so big they provided shelter from the sun for protesters underneath. Others carried giant green, yellow and blue flags, several metres (yards) long, from pre-Bashir Sudan.
“We will not give up our demand of a civilian state,” said protester Amir Shazly.
They coincided with the anniversary of the Sudanese uprising against military rule by president Ibrahim Abboud in 1964.
The demonstrations were organised by the mainstream faction of the Forces for Freedom and Change, an umbrella civilian alliance which spearheaded the anti-Bashir protests more than two years ago.
‘People to decide’
The transfer to civilian rule is “not even a demand but its what the military itself agreed to do,” said another protester, Ahmed al-Tayeb.
Sudan has been led by a civilian-military administration since a power-sharing deal in August 2019 that outlined the transition and the eventual transfer of power to civilians.
Under the transition, the country’s political scene has been marred by deepening divisions between civilians and the military, and factional infighting among themselves.
Critics have alleged that the pro-military sit-in, organised by a splinter faction of the FFC, was backed by members of the military and counter-revolutionary sympathisers with the former regime.
Support for Hamdok’s government has waned in recent months especially following tough IMF-backed economic reforms that took a toll on ordinary Sudanese.
Demonstrators at the sit-in have been calling for “military rule” and the dissolution of the transitional government headed by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Sudan’s deepening economic crisis is marked by triple-digit inflation and severe shortages exacerbated by anti-government protesters who have blockade Sudan’s main sea port.
Still, rival protesters remained adamant on the transfer of power to civilians.
“We are now sending a message that the streets belong to the revolutionaries,” said protester Mujahed Mohammed in Khartoum.
“Its the people who get to decide.”