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How the crisis in Sudan unfolded

Sudanese Christians from the Nuba Mountains gather at the protest sight near the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 14, 2019.  

Khartoum, Sudan | AFP | The deadly crackdown by security forces on protesters in Sudan follows a worsening standoff between the ruling military and demonstrators demanding civilian rule.

The unrest started in December 2018, when citizens revolted against a tripling of the price of bread.

In April, demonstrators launched a sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum to demand the departure of long-time president Omar al-Bashir.

He was ousted by the army a few days later, but the protesters remained in place in their thousands to demand civilian rule.

On June 3 security forces broke up the sit-in, launching a crackdown that killed more than 100 people in a few days.

Here is a summary of events.

– Talks break down –

On May 20, after several breakthroughs, talks between the ruling military council and protest leaders hit deadlock over the make-up of a new governing body to oversee a three-year transition to civilian rule.

Protest leaders insist on a civilian head for new sovereign council and say the majority of its members must be civilians, proposals rejected by the generals.

Islamist movements back the military, hoping it will uphold the system of Islamic law in place since a 1989 coup.

On May 28-29, thousands of public and private sector workers strike across the country to pressure the military rulers.

– Saudi, UAE, Egypt back military –

In late May, military council chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan visits Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

As ground forces commander, he reportedly coordinated the deployment of Sudanese troops as part of a Gulf-led coalition battling Iran-linked rebels in Yemen.

The three regional powers have thrown their weight behind the Sudanese military for fear of a repeat of the turbulence that followed the Arab Spring in several countries in 2011.

However Qatar, a long-time ally of Bashir but also a friend to Iran and involved in a bitter dispute with Saudi Arabia and its allies, has seen its influence in Sudan wane since the start of the crisis.

On May 31, the military council closes down the Khartoum bureau of the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera, which regularly broadcasts footage of demonstrations.

No reason is given for the order.

– Bloody crackdown –

On June 3, men in military fatigues move in on the protest camp outside the army headquarters and disperse the thousands gathered there with force.

More than 100 have been killed and hundreds wounded since the start of the crackdown, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, close to the demonstrators.

Internet connectivity is disrupted.

A day later the military scraps all previous agreements with protest leaders for a transition and calls for elections “within a period not exceeding nine months”.

Protesters denounce a putsch.

In Khartoum and across the country, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) — paramilitaries with origins in the 16-year-old war in the western region of Darfur — are thought to have been behind the crackdown.

They are accused of atrocities, including attacks on hospitals.

The international community demands an end to the violence and resumption of dialogue.

– Civil disobedience –

On June 5, as gunfire crackles across the capital, the army says it is open to negotiations “with no restriction”.

Protest leaders turn down the call for talks with the military council “that kills people”.

Saudi Arabia expresses “great concern” at developments and calls for a resumption of dialogue.

Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy chief of the ruling military council and head of the RSF, says the country will not be allowed to slip into “chaos”.

Opposition figures are arrested on June 8, a day after meeting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who had travelled to Khartoum as a mediator.

On June 9, protest leaders launch a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience. Four people are killed in clashes in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman, with medics blaming forces linked to the military council for the deaths.

Police fire warning shots and tear gas to disperse demonstrators building roadblocks in the capital, and businesses close in several cities.

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