New demonstrations were organized on May 19 by forces opposing the military government, in Khartoum and in the country’s major cities, and the intervention of security forces resulted in the death of one protester in Omdurman and the wounding of several others.
This brings to 96 the number of victims of the military crackdown on the protest that has been relentlessly calling for an end to military rule since last October, once again raising the level of violence.
The protesters then returned to the streets on the following Saturday, May 21, renewing their demand for the establishment of a civilian government and calling for the indictment of the top leadership of the military junta that came to power in the coup last Oct. 25. The protest movement rejects any formula for negotiation and compromise with the military authorities, while General al-Burhan himself — chairman of the Sovereign Transitional Council — considers the attempts of UN Special Envoy Volker Perthes as direct interference in the affairs of the Sudanese state, repeatedly threatening his expulsion from the country.
Two leading figures of the Sudanese Communist Party were arrested during the protests on Thursday the 19th, then released the next day. They were Mohammed Mukhtar al-Khatib, political secretary of the Sudanese Communist Party, who was arrested at his home in Khartoum, and Saleh Mahmoud, who was arrested at the capital’s airport. Both had just returned to Khartoum from Juba, South Sudan, where they had met in Kuda, South Kordofan, with Abdel Aziz El Hilu, head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), and Abdelwahid El Nur, head of the Sudanese Liberation Movement in Darfur.
The arrest of the two politicians had provoked protests from all opposition political forces, leading to their swift release by security forces amid fears of further waves of protest in the capital.
The dynamics of the arrest, which most likely occurred due to the initiatives of the Rapid Support Forces under the command of General Dagalo, have not been clarified, despite a pledge by the head of state, General al-Burhan, to release the political prisoners as a sign of détente toward opposition forces.