Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Sudan protesters urge Darfur demos as new rallies planned

Security forces fire tear gas as more protests hit Sudanese cities Sudan human rights body condemns use of live ammunition against protesters
Jeannette Daniel | 14 January, 2019, 05:45

Police dispersed the rally later on Sunday, but the smell of tear gas lingered across the neighbourhood, witnesses said.

Protests that first erupted last month over a government decision to raise the price of bread have swiftly escalated into anti-government demonstrations.

The Sudanese government says more than three weeks of anti-government protests has left 24 people dead.

Moreover, hundreds of protesters on Sunday took to the streets of El-Fasher, capital of North Darfur and Nyala, capital of South Darfur in the first demonstration of its kind in Sudan's western region since the unrest began last month.

On Sunday, protest organisers called for demonstrations in the capital Khartoum and other towns including Madani, Kosti and Dongola as part of what they have called a "Week of Uprising".

"Patients and doctors in Omdurman Hospital were attacked with tear gas and live bullets as Sudanese security forces ramped up their mission to suppress peaceful protests", Sarah Jackson, Amnesty's deputy director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said on Thursday.

Sudan's National Human Rights Commission, the top governmental human rights body, has condemned the killing "by bullets" of protesters during the ongoing wave of protests across the country, calling on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

Analysts say the challenge now for organizers is to get protesters onto the street in numbers.

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The European Union said on Friday that security forces have used "live ammunition" against protesters causing casualties, although Sudanese officials including Bashir have blamed the violence on "thugs" and "conspirators".

Sudan is among countries with the highest death rates in traffic accidents, mainly due to careless driving, crumbling roads and poor vehicle scrapping system.

Repeated shortages of food and fuel have been reported in several cities, including Khartoum, while the cost of food and medicine has more than doubled.

The US imposed a trade embargo on Khartoum in 1997 that was lifted only in October 2017.

"But so far there hasn't been an escalation, they are persistent but they haven't risen in intensity in a significant way". It restricted Sudan from conducting global business and financial transactions.

A nation of 40 million people, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three quarters of its oil output-its main source of foreign currency-when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

"Those who tried to destroy Sudan. put conditions on us to solve our problems, I tell them that our dignity is more than the price of dollars", Bashir said.

Rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began, including opposition leaders, activists and journalists as well as demonstrators.

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