Africa

Fourth month of protests in Sudan, demonstrations go on

Crowds of anti-government demonstrators in Sudan have taken to the streets of the capital Khartoum, chanting “freedom, peace, justice”, three months after unprecedented protests erupted in the country against President Omar al-Bashir over economic woes.

Protesters on Monday marched through the northern suburb of Bahari, in an area called Street 60, where they confronted with riot police who hurled tear gas canisters to disperse the rally.

“Who killed our martyrs?” asked protesters as they convened in Street 60 area.

Elsewhere in the capital, dozens of students also protested in a college located in another upmarket district.

The East African country has been struggling with persisting protests since December 17, when an anti-government campaign erupted over price hikes and shortages of food and fuel.

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The demonstrations first held in the farming town of Atbara after cash-strapped Khartoum cut a vital subsidy on bread and tripled its prices. The move infuriated people and triggered protests, which swiftly mushroomed into nationwide anti-government rallies, particularly in the capital and its twin city of Omdurman.

That initial public display of anger quickly spiraled into calls for 75-years-old Bashir, who took power in 1989 through a military coup, to step down.

In an attempt to further quell the rallies, the president on February 22, the embattled president declared a state of emergency across the African country, dissolved the central government, replaced state governors with security officials, boosted police powers and prohibited unauthorized public demonstrations.

The slew of measures has not completely halted the rallies buy the scale and intensity of them. However, it has shrunk in recent weeks, particularly since the state of emergency came into effect.

The Sudanese president is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his alleged role in genocide in the Darfur region, which he strongly denies. He has also been lobbying for his country to be removed from a list of the countries the US considers state sponsors of terrorism.

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Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) has purportedly been carrying out a crackdown on protesters, opposition leaders, activists, and reporters in an attempt to prevent the spread of the rallies, which are viewed as the biggest threat to Bashir’s decades-long rule.

Official figures say 31 people, including some security agents, have lost their lives since the onset of the rallies. Some rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, say at least 51 people have died so far.

Bashir has remained defiant, addressing loyalists at a number of rallies across the country and seeking support from regional allies.

Sudan has been suffering from a worsening economic crisis, including a serious shortage of foreign currency.

The cost of some commodities, including medicines, has more than doubled and inflation has hit 70 percent. A growing lack of food and fuel has also been regularly reported across several cities, including the capital.

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