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Sudan security forces fire tear gas at protesters on anniversary of power-sharing deal

Khartoum Governor Ayman Khalid expresses his 'deepest apologies' and calls for probe into 'excessive' force used
The government says it is pushing ahead with reforms, but many people want swifter and deeper change (AFP)

Sudanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters who had gathered on Monday to mark the anniversary of a transitional power-sharing deal and demand quicker political reform.

The agreement set up a precarious alliance of civilian technocrats and military officials following the April 2019 overthrow of long-time President Omar al-Bashir, with elections due to be held after 39 months.

The government says it is pushing ahead with reforms, but many people want swifter and deeper change.

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Protesters from neighbourhood-based "resistance committees" gathered outside the cabinet's headquarters in central Khartoum, some burning car tyres, to voice their demands amid a heavy security presence.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded anti-Bashir protests and helped strike the deal with the military, said on Twitter that security forces violently dispersed protesters after they demanded to meet Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and refused an envoy sent in his place.

"We came to demonstrate to put pressure on the government to speed up the reforms, because after a year, we're not satisfied," Mohammad Omar, a 20-year-old student, told AFP.

"The police use tear gas against us when it's our right to demonstrate. It's unacceptable."

'Deepest apologies'

The police said in a statement late on Monday that officers' use of tear gas during the demonstration was lawful according to their evaluation of the situation on the ground, but had led to "some random injuries" among protesters and security forces.

Khartoum's governor Ayman Khalid expressed his "deepest apologies" and called the force used on Monday "excessive" and "contradictory to [our approach] in the era of freedom, peace and justice".

Khalid also called on the general prosecutor to investigate, Reuters reported.

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The neighbourhood committees say they want to see the long-delayed formation of a transitional legislature, the reorganisation of the civilian Forces of Freedom and Change coalition, which agreed the power-sharing agreement, and a civilian takeover of military-run companies.

"I am here to protest because we want to see the goals of our revolution achieved," said 22-year-old Sawsan Mohammad.

Hamdok on Monday called for political and popular support for reform.

"The state apparatus needs to be rebuilt, the legacy of [the old regime] needs to be dismantled and the civil service needs to be modernised and developed to become unbiased between citizens, as well as effective," he said in a statement.