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Hundreds rally in Sudan to support military-backed initiative

Rallies took place outside a Khartoum conference hall where meetings have been held by a recently-established initiative, known as "The Call of Sudan's People" and aimed at ending Sudan's political crisis
— Khartoum (AFP)

Hundreds of Sudanese rallied on Sunday in support of a political initiative backed by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan who led last year's military coup, AFP correspondents said.

The rallies took place outside a Khartoum conference hall where meetings have been held since Saturday by a recently-established initiative aimed at ending Sudan's political crisis.

The initiative, known as "The Call of Sudan's People", was launched last month by renowned Sufi religious leader Al-Tayeb Al-Jed.

Late last month, Burhan -- who led the October coup that derailed Sudan's transition to civilian rule -- welcomed the initiative.

In a televised speech Sunday, Burhan urged all Sudanese factions to join efforts seeking to bring Sudanese people together to "continue the transition and pave the way for elections".

He also said the army is siding with the people's aspirations for "democratic rule under an elected civilian government".

Demonstrator Hozaifa Mohamed said he "supports the initiative which calls for national consensus and which we hope will bring an end to the crises in Sudan".

Another demonstrator, Othman Abdelrahman, also said the initiative "calls for ending strife" and "brings together multiple factions from across Sudan, including Sufis, armed groups and others".

The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), Sudan's main civilian bloc which was ousted from power in the coup, did not join the initiative.

Also absent were members from the resistance committees, informal groups that emerged during the 2019 protests against Bashir and which have led the calls for recent anti-coup rallies.

Sudan has been reeling from political unrest, a spiralling economic crisis and a spike in ethnic clashes in its far-flung regions.

The military power grab upended a transition to civilian rule launched after the 2019 ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir, who ruled for three decades.

The country has since been rocked by near-weekly protests and a violent crackdown that has so far killed at least 116 people, according to pro-democracy medics.

A conference held by the initiative on Saturday was attended by diplomats from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the African Union.

In a speech then, Al-Jed said the initiative brought together some 120 political parties and multiple factions, including Sufi orders and tribal leaders.

He also said it aims to address "the economic deterioration" in the country, "achieve peace and security" and ensure that elections scheduled for next year are held "with integrity".

The Sufi figure further called on people to "rally in support of" the army and other security forces to ensure unity. He urged factions that did not attend the meeting to join the initiative even if they are "opposed" to it or have "reservations".

Last month, Burhan pledged in a televised address to step aside and make way for Sudanese factions to agree on a civilian government.

Civilian leaders who were ousted in last year's coup dismissed his move as a "ruse", and pro-democracy protesters have held fast to their rallying cry of "no negotiation, no partnership" with the military.

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