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Sudan Protesters Pack Khartoum Again

FILE: Sudanese protest Wednesday against the military coup that ousted government last month, in Khartoum, Sudan. More protests are planned for Sunday. Image taken 1.17.2021

Sudanese anti-coup protesters manned barricades on the streets of the capital Wednesday, saying they did not believe promises by the army chief he would make way for a civilian government.

A day after Sudan's main civilian bloc rejected a proposal by the country's coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan as a "giant ruse" and urged more protests, crowds of demonstrators held firm in rallies in both Khartoum and its suburbs.

On Wednesday, for a seventh straight day, crowds called on the army to relinquish power, and chanted slogans against Burhan.

Protesters have kept up rallies demanding a restoration of the transition to civilian rule despite repeated crackdowns by the security forces, who have in recent days fired live bullets, launched barrages of tear gas canisters and deployed powerful water cannons to break up the crowds, according to medics.

Burhan's pledge Monday to step aside for a new civilian "government" with "executive" powers was accompanied by another pledge -- the establishment of a new "Supreme Council of Armed Forces".

This body would be in charge of defense and security, he said, feeding into concerns among opponents that it would not be answerable to any government.

Burhan said the Supreme Council would combine the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, a much feared and powerful unit commanded by Burhan's deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

Key FFC member and ex-rebel Yasser Arman, in a statement late Tuesday, warned that Burhan's "intention is to choose a prime minister who is a wolf in sheep's clothing and takes his orders from the military council".

Arman said that Burhan's announcement was aimed at the "regional and international community, some of whose members are looking for quick solutions" including those who he warned are "prioritizing stability over democracy".

The FFC has so far refused to take part in talks with military leaders, despite pressure from international brokers that range from the United Nations to the African Union and regional bloc IGAD.

Burhan's announcement has been treated cautiously by international players, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres saying he hoped it would create "the opportunity reach an agreement that ultimately leads to a civilian-led transition to democracy".