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Sudan police fire tear gas as rallies held for 'martyrs'

The rallies came a day after protest leaders and army rulers inked a power-sharing deal to form a joint civilian-military body tasked with installing a civilian administration -- the main demand of demonstrators.

Sudanese protesters chant slogans and wave national flags as they march in the capital Khartoum's Green Square on 18 July 2019, as they honour comrades killed in the months-long protest movement that has rocked the country. Picture: AFP

KHARTOUM - Sudanese police fired tear gas Thursday as hundreds of demonstrators marched on a prominent Khartoum square to honour comrades killed in the months-long protest movement that has rocked the country.

The rallies came a day after protest leaders and army rulers inked a power-sharing deal to form a joint civilian-military body tasked with installing a civilian administration - the main demand of demonstrators.

Witnesses said men and women waving Sudanese flags marched from several parts of the capital towards the Green Yard, a prominent square.

As they marched, the demonstrators shouted slogans that have been the rallying cries of the uprising that led to the toppling in April of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir: "Civilian rule, civilian rule!" and "Freedom, peace, justice!"

The marches were held in response to calls from a key protest group.

"The rallies are a tribute to those honourable martyrs of the December revolution," the Sudanese Professionals Association said in a statement.

Riot police fired tear gas to disperse a rally at a key bus station in downtown Khartoum, witnesses said.

"Protesters who were dispersed are trying to mobilise again and continue with the rally. It's like a game of cat and mouse between them," a witness told AFP from the capital's Jackson bus station.

One onlooker said that many who arrived at the Green Square were in tears as they chanted slogans remembering those killed in the protests.

The SPA spearheaded the initial campaign which erupted in December against the government of Bashir over its decision to triple the price of bread.

Those protests swiftly escalated into a nationwide movement that led to the army's overthrow of Bashir in April.

But protesters continued taking to the streets against the military council that took power in his place.

More than 200 people have been killed since December in protest-related violence, according to doctors close to the movement.

Tensions between the generals and protesters surged after a June 3 raid against a weeks-long Khartoum sit-in that left dozens of demonstrators dead.

On Wednesday, the protesters and generals finally agreed a deal paving the way to a transitional civilian administration that would govern for just over three years.

The talks, however, are set to continue Friday as the two sides push to resolve remaining issues.

A western troika of the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway, which have been involved in mediating the talks, welcomed the initialling of the deal and called for the formation of a civilian-led administration.

"We encourage the parties to quickly conclude the parallel constitutional agreement and form the civilian-led transitional government, which the Sudanese people have courageously and peacefully demanded since December 2018," they said in a joint statement.

"The troika looks forward to engaging a civilian-led transitional government as it works to achieve the Sudanese people's aspirations for responsive governance, peace, justice and development."

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