Thousands of anti-coup protesters in Sudan are set to hold a nationwide demonstration on Saturday against the bloody takeover of government by the military earlier this week.
The protesters will be demanding the restoration of a civilian-led government, putting the East African country back on track to democracy following decades of authoritarian rule.
“We will not be ruled by the military. That is the message we will convey” at the protests, Sudanese rights activist Tahani Abbas told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
“The military forces are bloody and unjust, and we are anticipating what is about to happen on the streets,” Abbas said. “But we are no longer afraid.”
On Monday, the nation’s military, led by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, detained Sudan’s civilian leadership and dissolved the government, ousting Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s cabinet.
Street protests followed the coup, triggering a brutal crackdown by security forces where at least 11 protesters died and about 170 were wounded.
Rights activists fear further bloodshed in the coming days, but protesters remain defiant.
The organizers of Saturday’s protest are hoping to stage a “million-strong” march against the military.
“The army should go back to its barracks and give the leadership to Hamdok,” said Mohamed, one of the activists who plans to join the protests.
“Our demand is a civilian country, a democratic country, nothing less than that,” he said.
The United States has called for a restoration of the civilian-led government, adding that Saturday’s protests would be a “real test” of the intentions of Sudan’s military.
Besides condemnation, the World Bank and the United States have also announced punitive measures such as the freezing of aid to the country already struggling under an economic crisis.
The US continues to stand with “Sudan’s people in their nonviolent struggle for democracy,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Twitter. “Sudan’s security forces must respect human rights; any violence against peaceful demonstrators is unacceptable.”
On Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the military to show restraint as he reaffirmed his “strong condemnation” of the coup.
“People must be allowed to demonstrate peacefully,” Guterres said.