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Sudan's main protest group calls for demonstrations to continue

Activists have been demanding for power to be handed over to people, not the military
Sudanese people chant slogans on Thursday in Khartoum (AFP)

The main organiser of protests against Sudan's Omar al-Bashir rejected a statement by the defence minister announcing a two-year transition under a military council, a senior source from the group said on Thursday.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) was also calling on protesters to maintain a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry that started on Saturday, the source said.

Thousands of protesters flocked earlier on Thursday to a rallying point outside the army's headquarters as they waited on the announcement from the army.

The Reuters news agency reported eyewitnesses describing soldiers raiding the offices of Bashir's Islamic Movement, a group at the core of his ruling party.

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There were unconfirmed reports of violence in Khartoum, including sniper fire and gunfire near the military headquarters where the protesters are gathered. 

After almost four months of continuous protest, the pressure on Bashir has mounted since Saturday, the anniversary of the last successful uprising in 1985, when a mass sit-in began outside the army headquarters in Khartoum.

"The sit-in of all factions of our people will continue until all the goals of the revolution are announced," said a statement from the Sudanese Professionals Association, the union which has organised almost daily protests for several months.

[Translation: No, no, to military rule]

The union and other activists had insisted they would not accept a transition that keeps power within the army, encouraging protesters to remain at the site of the sit-in.

Days of Bashir, an activist Facebook account that has been spreading footage of the protests since its earliest days, wrote on Thursday morning that the army must "deliver power to the people".

"Our proud people, after we fought and waited for more than four months with blood and patience, we call on the masses to gather in the sit-in and to ensure that people will not accept anything expect civilian authority," the group wrote.

The role of the army has been repeatedly questioned by protesters in recent days, even while soldiers on the ground have been celebrated for defending the protesters. 

Soldiers have been positioned throughout the sit-in since Saturday and on several occasions have clashed with other security forces loyal to Bashir who have tried to break up the protests, but the position of army commanders has not been clear.

According to the Sudanese Doctors' Union, five of the 22 people killed since Saturday were soldiers. 

Earlier, the army and security services deployed troops around the palace, defence ministry and on major roads and bridges in Khartoum as thousands of people flocked to an anti-government protest outside the ministry, a witness said.

Khartoum international airport has also reportedly been shut down.

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