Sudanese police have fired tear gas to disperse a large crowd of people demonstrating in the capital, Khartoum, for the fifth consecutive day against President Omar al-Bashir’s three-decade rule.
The clashes broke out late Sunday as hundreds of protesters were pouring out of a football stadium after a match in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, shouting anti-government slogans.
The protesters were marching down a major road leading towards the center of Khartoum when the riot police intervened and began firing tear gas to break up the gathering.
The demonstrators were chanting, “The people want the fall of the regime” and “Freedom! Freedom!”
The situation across Sudan has been unstable since Wednesday after the Bashir government hiked the price of a loaf of bread from one Sudanese pound to three (from about two to six US cents) amid shortages of food and fuel across the country.
At least eight people have died — two in Atbara and six in al-Qadarif to the southeast of the capital, according to official figures.
A higher death toll of 22 has, however, been given by Sudan’s main opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, who blamed “armed repression” for the casualties.
Meanwhile, riot police have been deployed around the capital amid the ongoing protests.
At least six people are killed in eastern Sudan amid mounting protests over the rising price of bread.
The offices of Bashir’s party have repeatedly been targeted over the past days, with officials declaring states of emergency and curfews in several states.
Police have used tear gas as well as live ammunition in some cases to disperse the protesters, residents say.
Unions to ‘paralyze’ government
In the meantime, a coalition of Sudanese unions plan to “paralyze” the government on Monday with the first of what it says will be indefinite strikes by professionals, including doctors and other hospital workers.
The coalition has also urged all Sudanese people to take to the streets and continue anti-government protests.
Amid the mayhem, the Kuwaiti Embassy in Khartoum has called on its citizens to leave Sudan, prompting a strong protest from Khartoum.
The Sudanese Foreign Ministry summoned Kuwait’s ambassador Bassam Mohamed Mubarak over Kuwait City’s warning.
Kuwait’s diplomatic mission has also urged the country’s nationals to avoid traveling to Sudan and called on those who are already in the country to stay away from rallies and follow the instructions issued by Sudanese officials.
‘IMF-World Bank diktats behind economic woes’
An expert on African affairs, who spoke to Press TV, linked the current unrest in Sudan to the economic policies dictated to Khartoum by international money lenders.
The Sudanese government’s mistake, said Lawrence Freeman, is that it is “following the dictates of International Monetary Fund and World Bank” in its economic policies, cutting subsidies and making the Sudanese people suffer.
Freeman said in order to ease the situation, Khartoum should break from the IMF and the World Bank.
“They have to leave the IMF, World Bank, Western model,” Lawrence said, warning that “the measures that they are carrying out could lead to regime change.”
The West has been seeking to oust Bashir since 1989, when he rose to power, said the analyst, adding that Western governments have been following various regime change scenarios that have so far failed.
He said if Khartoum fails to deal with the economic crisis, the Western states “will use the anger of the population to carry out the regime change” that they have been so far unsuccessful in accomplishing.