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News > World

Sudan: Anti-Government Protests Demand President to Step Down

  • Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans as they march  during anti-government protests in Khartoum, Dec. 25.

    Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans as they march during anti-government protests in Khartoum, Dec. 25. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 January 2019

Demonstrations have held strong for 3 weeks despite an early government crackdown, during which 37 people were shot dead.

Dozens of protesters chanted anti-government slogans as they left Friday prayers at a major mosque near Sudan's capital, one day after a prominent figure in President Omar al-Bashir’s party called for him to resign after 30 years in power.

Sudan President Orders Probe Into Deaths of Protesters

Security forces fired teargas to disperse crowds in Omdurman, Sudan’s second-largest city which sits on the western banks of the Nile across from the capital, Khartoum, as demonstrations against skyrocketing costs of bread, cash shortages and other economic hardships continued into the third week.

A group of unions that organized the protests denounced that one of its leaders, Mohammad Naji al-Assam, was arrested at noon when prayers ended.

"The association condemns arbitrary detentions, which will not stop it from continuing the march with the people for the sake of freedom and change," the Sudanese Association of Professionals said via Twitter.

The protests are the most steadfast opposition Bashir has faced since he took power in a religious-extremist-backed coup almost three decades ago.

Bashir and the head of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service have blamed infiltrators for inciting the protests.

Friday's protesters, mainly young men, chanted "peaceful, peaceful" and "fall, fall," as they called for a change in government outside the Al-Sayed Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi mosque, which has ties to the opposition Umma party.


Sudan President Omar al-Bashir: 3 Decades of Power and War Crimes

Organizers have urged people to march again toward the presidential palace in Khartoum Sunday.

Al-Shafi’ Ahmad Mohammad, the first secretary-general of Bashir’s National Congress Party, issued a rare call for Bashir to step down Thursday. In a recording circulating on WhatsApp, he said that Bashir should resign and form a transitional government "to save the country."

As of Saturday, there has been no government response.

Mohammad's call came after opposition parties said Tuesday that they wanted Bashir to dissolve the government and form a transitional administration that would set a date for elections. Their petition also called for the investigation of alleged abuses by security forces during recent demonstrations across Sudan, Reuters reported.

Authorities have said 19 people, including two security officials, died during the demonstrations. However, Amnesty International said last week it had credible reports that 37 protesters had been killed by bullets fired by security forces.

Barraq al-Nathir al-Warraq, a human rights activist in Sudan, said Sudanese security forces have detained around 2,000 people since the beginning of the protests, including political activists, journalists, and civil society members.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday that three journalists have been detained and called on the government to release them immediately. Sudan has one of the lowest press freedom indexes, ranking 174 of 180. In January of 2018, 18 journalists including foreign media correspondents were detained while covering opposition protests.

Sudan's economy has struggled to recover from the loss of three-quarters of its oil output - its main source of foreign currency - since South Sudan seceded in 2011, taking with it most of the oilfields.

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