Sudanese security forces deployed in large numbers Sunday, setting up road blocks in the capital Khartoum amid calls for pro-democracy rallies in “memory of the martyrs” killed in recent protests.
Communications including internet and phone lines have been severely restricted, while armed officers blocked key bridges across the Nile river connecting Khartoum to its suburbs.
Web monitoring group NetBlocks said mobile internet services were cut from mid-morning ahead of the planned protests, the first of the year.
Activists use the internet for organizing demonstrations and broadcasting live footage of the rallies.
Sudan, with a long history of military coups, has undergone a fragile journey toward civilian rule since the 2019 ouster of Omar al-Bashir following mass popular protests.
But the country has been plunged into turmoil since military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan — de facto leader since the ouster of Bashir — launched a coup on October 25 and detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Hamdok was reinstated on November 21, but mass protests have continued as demonstrators distrust veteran general Burhan and his promises of seeking to guide the country toward full democracy.
Activists have kept up a more than two-month-long campaign of street demonstrations against the army’s takeover, despite a crackdown that has seen at least 53 people killed and hundreds injured in protest-related violence, according to the pro-democracy Doctors’ Committee group.
Those rallies have been repeatedly broken up by security forces firing rounds of tear gas, as well as charges by police wielding batons and shooting bullets into the air.
On Thursday, five people were shot dead in Khartoum 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 mounted with heavy machine guns were posted at strategic road crossings, an AFP reporter said.
Activists say 2022 will be “the year of the continuation of the resistance” in posts on social media.
They demand both justice for the dozens killed since the coup, as well the more than 250 killed during the mass protests that began in 2019 that paved the way for the toppling of Bashir.
Over 14 million people, one in three Sudanese, will need humanitarian aid next year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the highest level for a decade.