(Cairo) Thirteen demonstrators were killed and dozens of others injured in the early hours of June 3rd, when units of the Sudanese army moved to disperse a protest camp outside the army command in downtown Khartoum, Sudan’s capital city.
Hundreds of army troops, some using rifles and machine guns, broke into the sit-in site and used violence to disperse the gathering, mainly staged by Sudan’s political forces and professional unions.
Sudanese army vehicles entered the site and removed the tents of the demonstrators, who ran for their lives, seeking refuge as army troops, some holding sticks and batons, cleared it.
“We are entering a totally new phase now with this violence,” said Ibrahim al-Amin, the deputy head of Sudan’s centrist National Umma Party.
True, the regime has fallen down on the surface, but its core remains intact
The sit-in outside the general army command on Nile Street in Khartoum started in mid-April, soon after the ousting of longtime president Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Bashir was forced out of power by the Sudanese army, after three decades as president of Sudan, following months of demonstrations by the general public. The demonstrations broke out against the background of deteriorating economic conditions, the lack of services and the widening scope of poverty.
The Sudanese army command took a semi-neutral stance during most of the demonstrations, masquerading as the people’s protector and the revolution’s guardian.
The Transitional Military Council (TMC), which was formed following Bashir’s downfall, started negotiations with the country’s political forces and professional unions on the topics of the transitional phase and the handover of power to civilians.
Nonetheless, today’s violence does away with almost all prior understandings reached between the council and the opposing political forces, Sudanese analysts have said.
“Some people in the military council have probably wanted to bring the negotiations to a halt by initiating this violence,” said Sudanese political analyst Mohamed al-Nayyer. “They wanted things to return to square one.”
However, the peace that emerged between the army command and the demonstrators has ended, with little chance of returning.
Sudan’s political forces and professional union, which have been leading most of the negotiations with the Transitional Military Council, have called for a nationwide strike.
They have called on Sudanese citizens across the nation to go out to the streets to join in with the protesters, and bring the military council down.
The political forces also said they would suspend negotiations with the military council and start a real struggle to force the council to hand power over to civilians.
Today’s violence was expected, as gaps between the military council and the demonstrators on the streets kept widening over the past weeks.
On May 14, four demonstrators and an army officer were killed in clashes inside the main protest site outside the army command.
On May 28, the Deputy Head of the Transitional Military Council, Mohamed Osaman Daqlo, said that some of the demonstrators on Sudan’s streets were paid by foreign powers to protract Sudan’s political crisis.
On June 1, Daqlo said handing power over to civilians would mean nothing for Sudan but “chaos”.
Things are still evolving, and reactions to today’s violence from both inside and outside Sudan are still pouring. Those closely watching developments in this country say more violence can occur in the coming days, with the situation between Sudan’s military rulers and the political forces reaching what can be seen as a dead-end.
“The violence does not augur well for the future course of Sudan,” Nayyer said. “If anything, today’s violence means that things will never return to how they were before June 3rd.”