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Monday, March 27, 2023

Over Ramadan iftar, Sudan protesters vow to get civil rule

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After a day of abstaining from food and drink, Sudanese protesters Monday broke their fast on the first day of Ramadan with chicken soup and vowed to press their campaign for a civilian rule.

As the call for the sunset prayer rang out, crowds gathered outside army headquarters in Khartoum for an iftar meal with many saying they were determined not to let the sweltering heat or fasting sap their energy.

“We will be able to survive Ramadan and the heat,” Hassan Bushra told AFP at the sprawling sit-in site. “What made us survive the bullets and bombs of (ousted president Omar al-) Bashir will make us survive the scorching heat. We are Sudanese. We are used to that,” he said.

Temperatures soared to 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) on Monday as the Sudanese like other Muslims around the world began observing Ramadan, during which the faithful fast from dawn to dusk.

Read more: Sudan protesters rally for fifth night outside army HQ

As the sun began setting protesters thronged the sit-in site to perform the Maghreb (dusk) prayer, and an iftar meal organised by the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the group leading the protests.

Volunteers prepared pots full of chicken soup, beans and lentils, which they distributed along with water, dates and bread. Others sprinkled water on protesters to offer them relief from the heat.

Sudan has been rocked by months of nationwide protests that initially erupted after the price of bread tripled, before targeting Bashir’s 30-year rule. On April 6, demonstrators set up camp outside army headquarters and urged the military to oust the veteran leader. The military deposed him five days later.

But a 10-member council of generals that then took power has resisted calls by the protesters to hand control to a civilian administration. Since then thousands of protesters have remained camped round-the-clock in the sprawling army complex to press for their demands.

Read more: Sudan protesters demand ‘immediate’ civilian rule

Pots of Chicken Soup

“We are fighting for a cause, we are fighting for a civilian administration and fighting to uproot the entire regime and remove its remnants from the miliary council,” said protester Abdelgadir Mohamed.

Sudan’s new military rulers and leaders of the protest movement have held several rounds of talks on the composition of a new ruling council, but they have failed to make headway as each side has a different view.

On Monday, the first day of Ramadan, protesters said they would not give in to pressure and were determined to stay put until their demands are met. “We will stay here two, three or four months until the entire regime falls,” one of them said as he ate some chicken soup.

Another protester, Hossam Aldin Othman, said he would stay even until Ramadan 2020. “We are eating, sleeping and praying here throughout Ramadan, we are staying put and we can even stay until Ramadan next year, until our demands are met,” he said.

Read more: Sudan protesters hail breakthrough in talks with army rulers

Anwar Mahmoud, a cook at the protest site, agreed. He said protest supporters had donated money and food for the crowds, specially the needy who could not afford an iftar meal.

“We will continue to do this every day until the end of Ramadan,” he said, as he carried a large pot of chicken soup. Some people arrived on Monday with food they had brought from home to break the fast with the protesters.

© Agence France-Presse