Renewed protests continue to hit Sudan

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 01.01.2019 00:27
Updated 01.01.2019 08:00

Sudan has been hit by renewed protests as an umbrella of independent professional unions called on people to march on the presidential palace in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, to demand that President Omar Bashir step down, signaling that protests are showing no sign of abating. It's the second time that the umbrella group, which enjoys the support of opposition parties, has called for a march on the presidential palace since protests began more than a week ago.

Sudan unions also called on people outside Khartoum to stage street protests. January 1 marks the anniversary of the country's 1956 independence from Anglo-Egyptian rule. "It is another round to affirm our immediate and unquestionable demand to bring down Bashir and his regime," said the statement, which appealed to security forces to refrain from using deadly force against Monday's protesters.

On Sunday, Bashir met top police officers in Khartoum and instructed them to refrain from using excessive force against demonstrators. "We want to maintain security and we want the police to do that by using less force," Bashir, dressed in a blue police uniform, said.

The president also said the country will get through the current crisis, while the Interior Ministry reiterated its support for him amid ongoing protests.

"We will get through the crisis despite attempts by some to make Sudan kneel," Bashir said. Making it through will require "patience and persistent work," he said. "Security is an expensive commodity and we will not be negligent in [protecting] the security of citizens and facilities," al-Bashir said, adding that "the aim is not to kill citizens." "Sabotage, destruction, looting and theft are a deepening of the crisis," he said. During the meeting, Sudanese police reiterated their support for Bashir amid ongoing protests against rampant inflation and acute bread shortages.

"We announce our full support for Bashir," Interior Minister Ahmed Bilal said. He said the security forces will not allow "those trying to use the economic situation to inflame sedition." "The only way to change power is through elections, not protests," Bilal said. "There will be no way to chaos."

The government has acknowledged that the protests started peacefully but said they turned violent when saboteurs infiltrated them. It has imposed emergency law in parts of Sudan along with nighttime curfews. Authorities have also suspended classes in schools and universities across much of the country.

Sudanese authorities say at least 19 people have been killed in street demonstrations that swept several Sudanese states against rising prices and shortages of basic commodities earlier this month. Opposition groups, for their part, say the death toll is closer to 40. A nation of 40 million, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three-quarters of its oil output-its main source of foreign currency-when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

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