Islamist-backed Sudanese protest against UN mission

Protesters backed by Islamists from previous regime gather some 200 metres from army command in Khartoum to protest against newly formed UN mission mandated to support political transition.

KHARTOUM - Dozens of Sudanese protesters rallied Wednesday in Khartoum against a newly formed United Nations mission mandated to support a political transition following last year's ouster of president Omar al-Bashir, witnesses said.

The anti-government demonstration, held near the army headquarters in the capital, came as security forces deployed heavily in the area and blocked roads leading to the military's high command.

The UN Security Council last week approved a new political mission, the Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), mandating it to help Sudan's transition to democratic rule.

"Protesters gathered some 200 metres from the army command, carrying Sudan's flags and tree twigs," said an AFP correspondent.

They chanted slogans including "down with the government of informants".

"We will not accept UN forces to enter our country. This government wants to bring in the occupation," said protester Hassan Noureddine, donning a mask.

Police forces later fired tear gas to disperse the crowds, which gathered in violation of a tight curfew designed to ward off the spread of coronavirus.

The protest came at the invitation of a new youth organization in Sudan calling itself the 'united popular movement' (Hashad) which is, according to local sources, part of groups loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood and the former Islamic regime led by ousted president Omar al-Bashir.

The Muslim Brotherhood was working in recent months to stoke the already tense situation in Sudan, trying to drag the country back into violence and chaos in a bid to return to the Sudanese political arena.

The site around the army headquarters was the scene of a weeks-long encampment last year that called for political change.

Sudan has embarked on a rocky three-year transition involving power sharing between civilians and generals since August 2019, after the military ousted longtime dictator Bashir in April on the back of months of mass protests against his rule.

The UN says the new mission will also "provide support for peace negotiations and bolster efforts to maintain accountable rule of law and security institutions."

Also last week, the UNSC extended the mandate of the African Union- United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) until the end of 2020.

The long-running peacekeeping mission's mandate had been due to expire at the end of October this year.