Sudan calls for new anti-government protests

Sudan: calls for new anti-government protests

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Organizers of demonstrations in Sudan since December 19 have called for new anti-government rallies on Friday and next week, putting pressure on President Omar al-Bashir’s regime.

“We will launch a week of uprising with demonstrations in all towns and villages,” said Friday the Sudanese Professionals Association which includes among others doctors, teachers and engineers.

In its appeal on social networks, the association has called for a large rally Sunday in northern Khartoum and several events across the capital next Thursday.

She had already called for a rally after Friday prayers in the locality of Atbara (250 kilometers north of Khartoum), where the first demonstration was held.

In the midst of economic slump, Sudan has been plagued since 19 December by demonstrations provoked by the government’s decision to triple the price of bread, but which have quickly turned into a movement against President Omar al-Bashir, who holds the country of an iron fist since a coup in 1989.

A total of 22 people died in these anti-government demonstrations, according to an official report. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have reported at least 40 deaths.

The current protests represent the biggest challenge that Bashir has faced in nearly 30 years of power, according to experts.

But they remain skeptical about the organizers’ ability to mobilize en masse.

“Some opposition groups and unions are seeking to mobilize for new demonstrations, and are probably thinking of ways to escalate (contestation) into power,” said Matt Ward, Africa specialist at the Oxford Analytica Analysis Center. .

“The protests are persistent but have not increased in intensity significantly” in recent days, he said, however.

– Economic crisis –

The protest movement was triggered by the rise in bread prices in mid-December but Sudan is in the grip of an economic crisis that has worsened over the past year, including a sharp shortage of foreign currency .

Shortages of food and fuel have been reported regularly in several cities including Khartoum, while the price of food and medicine has more than doubled.

Since South Sudan’s independence in 2011, Sudan has lost three-quarters of its oil reserves and is now facing inflation of nearly 70 percent per year and a severe currency crisis.

Sudanese officials continue to blame Washington for the economic ills of Sudan.

For its detractors, President Bashir’s regime is responsible for the economic crisis, for its mismanagement and for spending the bulk of the budget on security forces in the face of the conflicts that have erupted in recent years in several provinces of the country.

These wars, together with the inability to boost agriculture in a time-appointed country as Africa’s breadbasket, have led to a dire economic situation, as the United States lifted its trade embargo by 2017 did not have the expected profits, analysts say.

On Wednesday, however, President Bashir showed his firmness at a support rally organized around his person in Khartoum.

“This gathering sends a message to those who think that Sudan will end up like other countries that have been destroyed,” he said.

“Those who have tried to destroy Sudan … have put conditions in place to solve our problems, but our dignity is worth more than dollars,” he said in an apparent allusion to the trade embargo imposed by Washington on 1997, which was lifted in 2017.

Thousands of people were arrested in three weeks of protests in Sudan, according to human rights groups, including activists, opposition leaders and journalists.

Britain, Norway, the United States and Canada have expressed concern over the death of protesters and arrests and warned that Khartoum’s actions will “have an impact” on their relations.

According to Khartoum, their concerns are “biased … and far from reality”. “Sudan is committed to freedom of expression and peaceful protests,” Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

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