Thousands of Sudanese protested outside the presidential palace in Khartoum on Thursday, calling for the appointment of senior judicial officials and justice for demonstrators killed since December. It was the first major protest since last month's signing of a power-sharing deal between the military and civilian groups for a three-year transition leading to elections, following the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir in April.
The protesters called for the appointment of a new head of the judiciary and a new public prosecutor, steps that they hope will lead to the prosecution of security forces blamed for deaths during demonstrations against al-Bashir and against the military council that initially replaced him. "Blood for blood, we won't accept blood money," the crowd chanted, repeating a slogan first used during protests against Bashir that began in December. Some also called out "The people want a new chief justice," and "Yes to an independent judiciary." "We demand justice for the martyrs, and for those who killed them to face justice," said one young female protest organizer.
Sudan's Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the umbrella coalition representing different pro-democracy parties and groups, called for a "million-man march" to pressure the joint civilian-military Sovereign Council, formed last month as part of a power-sharing deal between protesters and the generals, to appoint judges known for their competence as well as political impartiality. The generals had previously dismissed nominations put forward by pro-democracy protesters for Sudan's two top judicial posts.
Justice over those deaths and other killings during crackdowns on anti-Bashir protests has been a key demand of the civilian parties that negotiated the power-sharing deal. After the deal a joint military-civilian council was formed, followed by a government of technocrats sworn in this week.
Authorities have acknowledged 87 deaths resulting from the violence, but protest groups have put the toll at nearly 130. Justice over the killing of innocents during crackdowns on anti-regime protests has been a key demand of the civilian parties that negotiated the power-sharing deal.