Sudan cuts mobile internet ahead of anti-coup rallies

Sudanese security forces deployed in large numbers on Sunday, setting up roadblocks in the capital Khartoum amid calls for pro-democracy rallies in “memory of the martyrs” killed in recent protests.

Communications, including the internet and phone lines, were severely restricted, while armed agents blocked the main Nile bridges connecting Khartoum to its suburbs.

Web watch group NetBlocks said mobile internet services were cut from mid-morning ahead of the planned protests, the firsts of the year.

Activists are using the internet to organize protests and broadcast live footage of the rallies.

Sudan, with a long history of military coups, has seen a fragile path to civilian rule since the ousting of Omar al-Bashir in 2019 following mass popular protests.

But the country has been in turmoil since the military leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, de facto leader since Bashir’s ouster, launched a coup on October 25 and arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

Hamdok was reinstated on November 21, but mass protests have continued as protesters distrust veteran General Burhan and his pledges to seek to guide the country to full democracy.

Activists continued a campaign of more than two months of street protests against the takeover of the army, despite a crackdown that left at least 53 dead and hundreds injured in violence linked to the protests, according to the Committee. pro-democracy doctors. group.

These rallies were repeatedly interrupted by security forces who fired bursts of tear gas, as well as charges by police wielding batons and firing bullets into the air.

Five people were shot dead in Khartoum on Thursday when security forces cracked down on mass rallies that saw tens of thousands take to the streets chanting “No to military rule”.

On Sunday, soldiers in armored vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns were stationed at strategic crossroads, an AFP journalist said.

Activists say 2022 will be “the year of continued resistance” in social media posts.

They are demanding justice both for the dozens killed since the coup, as well as for the more than 250 killed in the mass protests that began in 2019 and which paved the way for the overthrow of Bashir.

More than 14 million people, one in three Sudanese, will need humanitarian assistance next year, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the highest level in a decade.

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