Thursday, 17 January, 2019

Security forces fire tear gas as more protests hit Sudan

Sudanese demonstrators march along the street during anti-government protests after Friday prayers in Khartoum Sudan Sudanese demonstrators march along the street during anti-government protests after Friday prayers in Khartoum Sudan
Melinda Barton | 14 January, 2019, 05:43

Protests broke out in Darfur after calls for rallies there by the Sudanese Professionals' Association, which has spearheaded the demonstrations.

Anti-government protests erupted in the Sudanese capital Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman after midday prayers Friday in continuation of weeks of rallies against a spike in prices and the rule of President Omar al-Bashir. A constitutional amendment proposed this month would allow him to retain his position past the end of his term in 2020.

In a separate incident, witnesses said hundreds of demonstrators emerged from a mosque known to be affiliated to Bashir's government in the Jabra district of southern Khartoum chanting: "The people want the fall of the regime".

Sudan's own human rights body has condemned the killing "by bullets" of protesters, but stopped short of saying who fired the deadly rounds.

Organizers called for nationwide demonstrations over the next week demanding Bashir resign. The authenticity of the recording could not immediately be verified.

At least 22 people have been killed during the protests, including two security personnel, according to the authorities.

North of Khartoum, demonstrators blocked the main road linking the capital to the Red Sea city of Port Sudan, witnesses said, without giving any further details.

Also, dozens of protesters have been injured during the demonstrations and thousands were arrested by security forces.

The commission said it was "calling upon the government to investigate this and bring the criminals to court".

A government fact-finding committee has recorded 24 deaths and Amnesty International has said that at least 40 have died.

"We condemn using bullets against citizens", a statement said, in addition criticising the firing of tear gas at hospitals.

Protest organisers have called for near daily demonstrations across the country against Bashir this week, calling it a "Week of Uprising".

People took to the street on December 19 after the government tripled the price of bread.

The association called for a major rally in the Khartoum North neighbourhood on Sunday, to be followed by further demonstrations in the capital during the week.

Although the unrest was triggered by the rise in the price of bread, Sudan has faced a mounting economic crisis over the past year, led by an acute shortage of foreign currency.

The United States lifted 20-year-old trade sanctions on Sudan in October 2017, but many investors continue to shun a country still listed by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Sudan's economy was crippled when the south seceded in 2011, taking away much of its oil resources.

Several activists said shops in Saad Gishra Market were closed as crowds started their protests against President Omar al-Bashir.