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Sudanese march to mark 40 days of mourning for slain protesters

Demonstrators took to the streets across the country, as the future of an agreement between the opposition and the military remained uncertain
Sudanese protesters march on 12 July during a demonstration to commemorate the 40-day anniversary of the 3 June sit-in massacre in Khartoum (Reuters)

Hundreds of Sudanese protesters rallied across the country on Saturday to mourn scores of demonstrators killed in a brutal raid on a Khartoum sit-in last month, witnesses said.

The protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, had called for marches across the country on Saturday to mark the 40th day of mourning since a raid that triggered international outrage.

Demonstrations in Khartoum on Saturday.

On 3 June, crowds were violently dispersed by men in military fatigues in a pre-dawn raid on a protest site outside the army headquarters on 3 June, as demonstrators who had camped there for weeks demanding a civilian rule were shot and beaten.

Chanting "Blood for blood, we won't accept compensations," crowds of protesters marched through the main streets of the Red Sea coastal city of Port Sudan, and other cities including Madani, al-Obeid and Kassala, witnesses said.

Many protesters were carrying banners that read: "Justice for Martyrs", while others held photographs of demonstrators killed in the raid.

Translation: Prayer of the missing for the souls of our righteous martyrs at the Great Mosque of Kassala.

In the capital itself, witnesses said a march was staged in the Haj Yousef area, but more were expected later in the day.

The 3 June raid had come after talks between protest leaders and military generals - who seized power after the army ousted longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April - collapsed over who should head a new governing body, a civilian or a soldier.

The current ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) insists it did not order the 3 June raid, which according to the protest movement left more than 100 killed and hundreds wounded. 

Tension between the two sides had soared after the raid but following intense mediation by African Union and Ethiopian mediators, a power-sharing deal was reportedly reached earlier this month to set up a joint civilian-military governing body.

The new governing body aims to install an overall transitional civilian administration for a period of a little over three years.

The agreement reportedly stipulates that the new governing body will be presided over by a military nominee for the first 21 months, and the last 18 months by a civilian.

Protest leaders and generals were initially scheduled to hold more talks on the finer details of the blueprint on Saturday, mediators said.

On Thursday, however, the military claimed it had thwarted an attempted coup, hours after it delayed the expected signing of the agreement which was supposed to be finalised almost a week ago.

A military source told Middle East Eye that the coup plot had been “fabricated”, and speculated that the military council might hope to use the threat of a coup to reverse gains made by protesters and force the opposition into making concessions.