Sudanese professionals emerge as new force defying Bashir

CAIRO (AFP) – For decades, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has kept dissenting voices low and opposition groups in disarray creating a political vacuum that a group of professionals has recently rushed to fill.

Public anger against worsening economic hardship and deteriorating living conditions has pushed doctors, engineers and university professors to come together under the umbrella of the “Sudanese Professionals Association” (SPA) and lead nationwide calls for Bashir to step down.

Although the association remains unknown to many, its calls have echoed across the country bringing thousands of protesters onto the streets, including in the capital Khartoum.

The protests were initially triggered by the tripling of bread prices. But they have swiftly evolved into deadly confrontations with the security forces.

“The Sudanese scene has lacked a leader on political, economic, security and social levels,” an SPA spokesman Mohamed Youssef al-Mustafa told AFP, speaking from Khartoum.

Sudan has about 100 political parties, but none have sought to steer the protest movement.

So the association has sought to organise protests. But in the end, Mustafa said, “it’s the people who lead.”

It started when back in 2012, in response to new laws restricting the freedom of political parties, a group of 200 professors at the University of Khartoum formed a group, prompting other professionals in the capital to form similar gatherings, Mustafa said.