Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has rejected calls to step down amid growing popular pressure against his rule. For thousands of protesters, the military may be the only option to force him out of office.
Sudanese security forces on Monday fired tear gas and rubber bullets at anti-government demonstrators camping outside the army's headquarters in the capital Khartoum, witnesses said.
They reported that pickup trucks carrying riot police and secret service personnel charged protesters in the early hours of the morning but were met by uniformed soldiers who came out of the compound to protect the activists.
Thousands of people have been rallying outside the military complex since Saturday, calling on the army to back their demand for President Omar al-Bashir to step down. The compound also houses the Defense Ministry and the official residence of Bashir, who has been in power for almost 30 years.
'Concrete action' needed
The sit-in outside the army headquarters is one of the largest anti-Bashir demonstrations since protests erupted in December over a government decision to triple the price of bread. Activists say the administration's economic mismanagement is to blame for rising food prices and fuel shortages.
State officials say 32 people have died in the east African country since the rallies began. Human Rights Watch, however, has put the death toll at 51, including medics and children.
Security forces killed at least five protesters over the weekend, including one medic, opposition representatives said on Sunday.
The EU voiced concern at Khartoum's response to the protests. "The people of Sudan have shown remarkable resilience in the face of extraordinary obstacles over many years," the EU's foreign affairs arm said. "Their trust must be won through concrete action by the government."
'We won't leave'
Protest organizers chose April 6 to begin the rally outside the army headquarters, the most heavily guarded compound in the country, to mark the 1985 uprising that toppled the regime of President Jaafar Nimeiri.
"After what we did (on Saturday), we will not leave this area now until our mission is accomplished," protester Osama Ahmed, told AFP. "We won't leave this area until he steps down."
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in December called on Sudanese authorities to investigate deaths caused during violent protests across the country.
nm, law/ng (AFP, AP, Reuters)