WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday (Oct 29) urged Sudan's military coup leaders to refrain from violence against peaceful protesters ahead of planned demonstrations on Saturday opposing the takeover, saying how the army reacts will be a test of its intentions.
"Tomorrow is going to be a real indication of what the military intentions are," said a senior State Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity.
"We call on the security forces to refrain from any and all violence against protesters and to fully respect the citizens' right to demonstrate peacefully" the official said.
Washington was relieved to see that ousted Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok had been allowed to return home, the official said, adding that it was not good enough because Hamdok was still under house arrest and unable to resume his work.
Sudanese General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dissolved Hamdok's Cabinet, and soldiers rounded up government ministers on Monday, prompting Western countries to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in desperately needed aid to the North African country.
Opponents of the coup have called for mass protests on Saturday under the slogan "Leave!". At least 11 protesters have been killed in clashes with security forces this week, and residents say they fear a full-blown crackdown.
The coup has derailed a transition meant to steer Sudan to democracy, with elections in 2023, after long-serving ruler Omar al-Bashir was toppled two years ago.