Sudan’s opposition has rejected a plan by the country’s military rulers to hold elections within nine months, a day after a deadly crackdown on protesters that saw the worst violence since the removal of President Omar al- Bashir in April.
At least 35 people were killed on Monday when security forces stormed a protest camp outside the defence ministry in central Khartoum, according to doctors linked to the opposition.
The military council, which has ruled since al-Bashir’s overthrow, afterwards cancelled all agreements with the main opposition alliance and said an election should be held within nine months.
But Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces opposition alliance, said a civil disobedience campaign would continue to try to force the council from power.
The opposition rejected all that Transitional Military Council (TMC) Head Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said in his statement, Madani said.
“What happened, killing protesters, wounding and humiliation, was a systematic and planned matter to impose repression on the Sudanese people,” he said.
The leaders of protests that forced al-Bashir from power after three decades of authoritarian rule in April have demanded preparations for elections during a transitional period led by a civilian administration.
The military council has also been under both domestic and international pressure to hand over power to civilians.
The main protest organisers, the Sudanese Professionals Association, accused the security forces of perpetrating “a massacre” when they raided the camp amid heavy gunfire.
On Friday, the TMC had called the sit-in “a danger” to the country’s national security and warned that action would be taken against what it said were “unruly elements”.
On the same day, the military had also ordered the office of Al Jazeera Media Network in Khartoum to be shut down, without giving a reason for the decision, while also withdrawing work permits for the correspondents and staff of the Qatar-based news organisation.
Mohammed Elmunir, a protester in Khartoum, said security forces blocked the exits of the sit-in site before opening fire on protesters.
“They were shooting at everyone randomly and people were running for their lives. They blocked all roads and most tents at the sit-in have been set on fire,” Elmunir said.
Sudan has been rocked by unrest since December, when anger over rising bread prices and cash shortages broke into sustained protests that culminated in the armed forces removing al-Bashir.
But talks between a coalition of protesters and opposition parties ground to a halt amid deep differences over who will lead a transition to democracy that both sides had agreed will last for three years.
In a televised address in the early hours of Tuesday morning, council leader al-Burhan said the opposition coalition was equally responsible for the delay in coming to a final agreement. — Al Jazeera