Thousands of people prayed outside the defence ministry in Khartoum, the site of a massive anti-government sit-in which has continued unabated even after the military removed President Omar al Bashir from power two weeks ago.

Sudanese protesters wave national flags during a sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum. April 26, 2019.
Sudanese protesters wave national flags during a sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum. April 26, 2019. (AFP)

Thousands of Sudanese protesters performed the weekly Muslim prayers outside army headquarters on Friday, a day after a vast crowd of demonstrators flooded Khartoum to demand the military rulers cede power.

Protesters have massed outside the army complex in central Khartoum since April 6, initially to demand the overthrow of longtime leader Omar al Bashir.

But since his ouster by the army on April 11, the protesters have kept up their sit-in, demanding the military council that took over hand power to a civilian administration.

Despite international support for the protesters, the 10-member council has so far resisted, although three of its members resigned on Wednesday under pressure from the street.

The resignations triggered jubilation among the protesters, who massed in their tens of thousands on Thursday in response to a call from their leaders for a "million-strong" march.

Reuters estimated that 20,000 people took part in the Friday prayer outside the defence ministry. 

'Freedom, freedom'

The protesters were back in numbers on Friday despite the scorching heat.

"Freedom, freedom," they chanted as prayer leader Sheikh Matter Younis delivered the sermon.

"We will not retreat until we get our main demand of civilian rule," said Younis, an activist from Sudan's war-torn western region of Darfur.

He also called for the "symbols" of the old regime to be punished.

"They must face fair and transparent justice, they have to be held accountable," he said, as the protesters chanted: "Blood for blood! We will not accept compensation!"

Another Darfuri, Harun Adam, said his family lived in Kalma, one of the sprawling camps that are still home to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the Bashir regime's brutal response to an ethnic minority revolt that erupted in 2003.

"I'm here since April 6," when the sit-in started, Adam said.

"I'm ready to stay here for a year until we get our main demand which is a civilian government and that all those who committed crimes be held accountable."

Behind him crowds chanted: "One, two, three, four, we are all Darfur!"

At a separate Friday prayer gathering in a mosque of south Khartoum, a prominent hardline imam, Abdelhai Yousef, called for a rally on Monday to protect sharia laws derived from Islamic jurisprudence.

"They want to write a secular constitution, but we will protect sharia," he said.

"We will gather on Monday to tell them that sharia is a red line."

The military council, led by General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, says it has assumed power for a two-year transitional period.

On Friday, groups of protesters also arrived from the state of eastern Sennar state to join the sit-in, witnesses said.

Protest leaders have held several rounds of talks with the council and the two sides have agreed to set up a joint committee to chart the way forward but there has so far been no breakthrough.

Washington has thrown its weight behind the protesters.

Department of State official Makila James said on Tuesday that Washington supports "the legitimate demand of the people of Sudan for a civilian-led government" and urged all parties to work together to that end.

But at a summit hosted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi on Tuesday, African leaders conceded that more time was needed for a transition to civilian rule.

Their statement angered the protesters who held a rally outside the Egyptian embassy on Thursday.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies