KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese security forces used teargas and batons on Thursday to disperse thousands of protesters demanding the reinstatement of army officers dismissed last week for refusing to crack down on demonstrations against former president Omar al-Bashir, witnesses said.
The clashes were the worst since the country’s military council and a coalition of opposition parties agreed on a power-sharing deal last August, protesters said.
At least 17 people were wounded in the clashes, a doctors’ committee linked to the opposition said in a statement.
Many of the wounded were hit by teargas canisters, the committee said, while witnesses said they saw others being chased off by security forces who beat them with batons.
The doctor’s committee said one of those injured had suffered a gunshot wound and another had a rubber bullet wound. There were no other immediate reports of shots being fired.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which called the protest and was also a key member of the opposition coalition that struck the deal with the military, called for the minister of the interior and the police general director to be sacked.
It urged Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok in a statement to “immediately dismiss the interior minister, the police general director and the head of police in Khartoum and replace them with national elements who belong to the revolution.”
The SPA said in a statement earlier in the day that all soldiers and military officers who had been “arbitrarily excluded from military service” should be reinstated.
The military removed Bashir from office and arrested him last April after months of demonstrations, bringing an end to his 30 years of autocratic rule.
But dozens of protesters were killed during crackdowns on the demonstrations, and dozens more died last June when security forces cleared a sit-in at which protesters pushed for further reforms.
Among those dismissed last week were some young army officers who had refused to participate in the crackdown on demonstrations in front of the defense ministry calling for the removal of Bashir.
“Whoever protected and sided with the people’s revolution deserves to be celebrated, promoted and given a leadership position,” the SPA said in its statement.
Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Hugh Lawson