Protests come two days after coup leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reappointed himself head of the Sovereign Council.
Sudan’s military has been deployed on the streets ahead of renewed pro-democracy protests against the military’s takeover, as the generals tighten their grip on power despite an outcry from the United States and other Western governments.
The “million person” marches on Saturday, called by Sudan’s pro-democracy alliance, come two days after coup leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reappointed himself head of the Sovereign Council, Sudan’s interim governing body.
Thursday’s move angered the pro-democracy alliance and frustrated the US and other countries that have urged the generals to reverse their coup.
The Sudanese military seized power on October 25, dissolving the transitional government and arresting dozens of officials and politicians.
The coup has drawn international criticism and huge protests in the streets of Khartoum and elsewhere in the country.
The takeover upended the country’s fragile planned transition to democratic rule, more than two years after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.
Sudanese security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters as hundreds rallied in the capital Khartoum on Saturday, witnesses told Reuters and AFP news agencies.
Despite disruption of communication networks, hundreds also gathered in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, where police dispersed one group of protesters with tear gas, witnesses and an AFP correspondent said.
Security forces also fired tear gas in east Khartoum “and chased protesters afterwards,” a witness said.
Other demonstrations broke out in the city of Wad Madani, south of Khartoum, according to witnesses.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said there was a heavy security presence across the capital.
“There are concerns that there will be violence because of the spread of security forces, not just on the main bridges around the capital but also on the main streets,” Morgan said.
“Activists and protesters have put out a list of hospitals where they say people should head out to should there be violence,” she added.
Saturday’s protests were called by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association and the Resistance Committees. Both groups were primary forces behind a popular uprising against al-Bashir in April 2019. Other political parties and movements joined the call.
Both groups have opposed the return to the power-sharing deal that established the deposed transitional government late in 2019.
They demand the handover of the government to civilians to lead the transition to democracy.
The United Nations envoy in Sudan, Volker Perthes, urged security forces to “exercise utmost restraint” during the planned protests and called for demonstrators to “maintain the principle of peaceful protest.”
Since the takeover, at least 14 anti-coup protesters have been killed due to excessive force by the country’s security forces, according to Sudanese doctors and the UN.
Ongoing mediation efforts seek to find a way out of the crisis.
Perthes said he held “good discussions” Friday with representatives of the resistance committees in Khartoum, civil society activists and Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, who was a civilian member of the dissolved sovereign council. Nasredeen Abdulbari, justice minister of the deposed government, also took part.