Sudanese protesters call for dissolving of joint government

CAIRO (AP) — Thousands of Sudanese took to the streets Saturday in the capital, Khartoum, to call for the dissolving of the joint military-civilian government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

The protest could further increase political tensions in Sudan, threatening its fragile transition to democracy more than two years after the military’s overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir amid a public uprising against his rule.

The demonstrations were organized by political parties and rebel groups that were part of the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, an umbrella group that led the uprising against al-Bashir.

The country is now ruled by a joint military-civilian transitional government but tensions between the civilians and the generals have increased following a recently foiled coup attempt. Activists insist the generals hand over power to civilians.

The state-run SUNA news agency said the demonstrators were bused in from the outskirts of Khartoum and elsewhere in the country to the gathering outside the presidential palace in the Sudanese capital.

The protesters’ demands echo those of Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling Sovereign Council, who said earlier this month that dissolving the government could resolve the ongoing political crisis.

Meanwhile, anti-government protesters in the country’s east have blocked a main Red Sea port there for more than two weeks, as well as fuel pipelines and major roads. The protests in Port Sudan are led by a tribal body representing six tribes from northeastern Sudan.

Hamdok’s office warned earlier this month that Sudan has been running out of essential goods, including medicines, fuel and wheat, due the Port Sudan blockade. Shortages of imported goods have caused bread queues to reappear in Khartoum in recent days.

Hamdok on Friday described the ongoing political tensions as “the worst and most dangerous crisis” threatening Sudan’s transition and called for negotiations to solve the disputes.

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