Sudanese security forces have beefed up security in and around Khartoum as pro-democracy protesters called for mass rallies in a bid to keep up pressure on the ruling military following the resignation of civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Activists on Tuesday said authorities closed roads in the capital and its twin city of Omdurman in an effort to prevent demonstrators from reaching key government buildings.
Hamdok, who was deposed and put under house arrest in an October 25 coup, had returned to government on November 21 under a deal signed with military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
But pro-democracy protesters who had denounced the military’s power grab also rejected its deal with Hamdok, whom they accused of “betrayal” for signing an agreement that ensured the military’s dominance in Sudanese politics.
Tens of thousands of people have continued taking to the streets despite a heavy security crackdown that has killed at least 57 protesters and wounded hundreds since the coup, according to a medical group.
In his televised resignation on Sunday, Hamdok said: “I tried my best to stop the country from sliding towards disaster” and cited “fragmentation of the political forces and conflicts between the [military and civilian] components of the transition”.
Hamdok had served as prime minister for more than two years under a power-sharing arrangement between civilian leaders and the generals who removed longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
Tuesday’s protests have been called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Resistance Committees, which were the backbone of the popular uprising that al-Bashir’s removal.
The protest movement insists on a fully civilian government to lead the transition towards elections, a demand rejected by the generals who say power will be handed over only to an elected government.
Elections are planned for July 2023.
Following the prime minister’s resignation, protesters told Al Jazeera they will not give up their fight for full civilian rule, “with or without Hamdok”.
“His removal, as far as [protesters] are concerned, removes the last fig leaf that was covering this regime and what remains is a full-fledged military dictatorship,” Ahmed el-Gaili, a Sudanese lawyer and legal commentator, separately told Al Jazeera.
Protesters in Sudan say they won’t give up until the country is under civilian rule.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “meaningful dialogue” between all Sudanese parties to “reach an inclusive, peaceful and lasting solution,” according to UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.
Since his reinstatement in November, Hamdok has been unable to form a cabinet amid the relentless protests.
Deliberations have been under way to find “an independent figure” to lead a technocratic cabinet through elections, according to a military official and a protest leader who spoke to the Associated Press news agency condition of anonymity. Among the names floated was that of former Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi.
Gibril Ibrahim, a rebel leader who joined Hamdok’s government last year following a peace deal with the transitional administration, urged for a “political compromise” to resolve the crisis.
“Let us agree to work together for the sake of Sudan,” tweeted Ibrahim.
Al-Burhan, head of the ruling Sovereign Council, said an independent cabinet with “specific tasks” would be formed as the executive branch of the transitional government. The military, he said, would “protect the democratic transition” until Sudan is able to hold free and fair elections.