WhatsApp, Facebook don’t replace presidents: Sudan’s Bashir

KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir yesterday mocked his opponents’ use of social media to mobilise protesters against his three-decade rule, saying that Facebook and WhatsApp can’t replace presidents.

Organisers of the anti-government protests that have rocked Sudan for weeks, have made routine use of social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter to get out the crowds.

“Changing the government or presidents cannot be done through WhatsApp or Facebook,” Bashir told a televised rally attended by hundreds of loyalists in the eastern town of Kassala.

“It can be done only through elections. It’s only the people who decide who will be the president,” he said.

Activists have extensively documented the protests which erupted on December 19 and have flooded social media with footage of clashes with security forces.

File photo shows Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at a loyalist rally in the capital Khartoum. – AFP

The demonstrations have been spearheaded by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA) which issues regular online announcements of forthcoming rallies, using the hashtags #Sudan_cities_uprise or #Just_Fall.

Other hashtags such as #SudanRevolts and #SudanUprising have also helped build momentum, amassing hundreds of tweets and retweets by the hour.

The Sudanese government has sought to curtail the use of social networks, activists and analysts say.

Internet users have reported difficulties accessing Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp since the early days of the protests.

The demonstrations began in the farming town of Atbara against the government’s decision to triple the price of bread.