Sudan police confront protesters as Bashir rejects accusations

KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudanese police fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters who tried to march on Parliament last Sunday, as President Omar al-Bashir insisted demonstrators who died in anti-government rallies were not killed by security forces.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against Bashir’s three decades of iron-fisted rule.

Last Sunday, as the protest movement entered its second month, hundreds of demonstrators attempted to march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, but they were quickly confronted by riot police who fired tear gas, witnesses said.

Protesters then staged simultaneous rallies in different neighbourhoods of Omdurman in an attempt to gather again for the march, a witness said, but they were unable to.

They shouted “freedom, peace and justice”, the main slogan of the protest movement, and “overthrow, overthrow”, the witness said.

Sudanese demonstrators gather in Khartoum’s twin city Omdurman last Sunday, where Sudanese police fired tear gas at protesters ahead of a planned march on Parliament. Demonstrators chanting ‘freedom, peace and justice’ began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, witnesses said. – AFP

Late last Sunday residents of Omdurman continued to protest in three areas, according to the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which is leading the protest movement. “Some protesters have fainted from the tear gas, while some are wounded,” it added, without elaborating.

Protesters in Omdurman had planned to march on parliament to submit a “memorandum to lawmakers” calling for Bashir’s resignation, said the SPA, which represents several unions of doctors, engineers and teachers.

Witnesses said protests were also staged in the capital’s eastern district of Burri – the site of heavy clashes last Thursday – and in the northern suburb of Bahari.

Protests were also held in some areas in the central town of Madani, witnesses said.

Officials said 26 people, including two security personnel, have died in the protests so far, while rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at more than 40.

The protests have emerged as the biggest challenge yet to the authority of President Bashir, who swept to power in 1989 in an Islamist-backed coup.

They come as Sudan suffers from an economic crisis driven by an acute shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation that has more than doubled the price of food and medicines.