Videos posted on social media by Sudanese pro-democracy activists showed protesters raising pictures of slain protesters, waving Sudanese flags and holding banners reading: “Our government is civilian and shall be protected by our revolution.” The marches were called by the Sudanese Professional Association, a group that has spearheaded the protests that drove longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir from power in April.
The demonstrations come as the country’s ruling military council was set to resume talks later in the day with protest leaders to finalize a power-sharing agreement, protesters said. The two sides had been set to hold talks Tuesday to on the agreement, but those were postponed after the deaths in North Kordofan province.
The protest leaders had agreed with the military on the outline of a power-sharing deal last month but remain divided on a number of key issues, including whether military commanders should be immune from prosecution for violence against protesters.
Earlier Thursday, state-run SUNA news agency reported that the military council arrested seven members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces who had fired live ammunition during Monday’s student protest. The military statement said the troops had responded in “an isolated manner” by shooting at the students.
An SPA statement called the marches a “safety valve” and “our way to bring culprits to justice, avenge martyrs and to ensure the transfer of power to an interim civilian government.” The group stressed the peaceful nature of the rallies, but warned that armed infiltrators might slip in among the crowd to instigate violence.
”We cannot reach any agreement while ignoring the blood of martyrs,” said Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the protest coalition that’s negotiating with the military. Speaking to reporters ahead of Thursday’s demonstrations, he said both marches and negotiations remain part of the protesters’ toolkit to achieve their goals.