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Sudan demos: More planned today while Al Bashir criticises protesters

January 4 - 2019 KHARTOUM / PORT SUDAN
Marchers converge on the centre of Port Sudan on Thursday afternoon (RD)
Marchers converge on the centre of Port Sudan on Thursday afternoon (RD)

Demonstrations that demand the withdrawal of the current regime in Sudan, sparked by the chronic shortage of cash and rising prices of bread and fuel, are nearing their third week. Several peaceful protests have been planned for today after the Friday prayers.

President Omar Al Bashir has renewed his criticism against acts of vandalism during the protest in several cities across Sudan. He accused the vandals of following instructions from foreign intelligence agencies, embassies and news agencies, which he did not name.

During his address to the pro-government Union of Sudanese Workers and Retirees yesterday he pledged to maintain the security and stability of Sudan. In response to the peaceful protests, Al Bashir strongly criticised the participating parties. “They used to jump off the boat every time they thought it was about to sink.”

The president was alluding to Gahzi Salah El Din of the Reform Now Movement and Mubarak El Fadel El Mahdi of the Umma Party who sent him a memorandum with other parties under the banner of the National Front for Change (NFC) exhorting him to transfer power to a collegial presidency council.

First protests

The first large-scale protests broke out on December 19 in the Sudanese capital, El Gedaref, Wad Madani, Berber, Atbara, El Obeid, Port Sudan, Dongola, Kosti and several other towns in River Nile state and Sennar. The Sudanese Doctors Committee was the first group to independently confirm the killing of demonstrators by police fire. According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International on December 25, 37 people were killed in the protests’ first five days. The current estimation is that 45 demonstrators have been killed.

In addition there have been reports of targeted internet disruptions to Sudan's internet infrastructure by people in Sudan and a global internet observatory. Several state governments have announced a State of Emergency and imposed a curfew for citizens in an attempt to surpress the unrest.

Friday prayers

In the past days there have been numerous calls by demonstrating opposition parties and on social media to launch demonstrations in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities after the Friday prayers today.

In addition, the parties who signed the Declaration of Freedom and Change on Tuesday, announced to carry out a new peaceful protest march on Sunday afternoon. Their plan is to march towards the presidential palace from several points that are expected to be announced soon.

The parties plan to hold another march on Wednesday in the twin-city of Khartoum, Omdurman. They called on all Sudanese parties and people to continue the demonstrations into the night.

Port Sudan

The protests in Port Sudan yesterday which were dispersed by security forces with a heavy use of tear gas have resulted in the arrest of three activists. A number of people have been injured, including Faisal Babu, Maysoun Saadabi, Abdelrahman and Jaafar Abdelgader who were transferred to Port Sudan hospital.

Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that hundreds of demonstrators had started marching from a public transport station to the government secretariat building to hand over a memorandum that demands the departure of Al Bashir, when they were dispersed by the security service and riot police which used batons and tear gas to chase them away.

Meanwhile the memorandum said that Red Sea State has been affected by the current government policies: public and private factories have been closed, workers have been fired, and the port has been privatised.

Displaced in Darfur

Sudan’s western region of Darfur has witnessed considerably less protests against the regime and the economic hardship in Sudan in the previous weeks compared to the unrest in cities in central and eastern states of the country. The Association of Displaced and Refugees in Darfur have showed their solidarity with the peaceful mass demonstrations in a statement this week.

The statement called on the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and the countries of the Troika (US, UK and Norway) to intervene to stop the excessive violence against demonstrators and killing of unarmed demonstrators. The Association saluted the martyrs of the demonstrations and wished a speedy recovery for the wounded and freedom for the political detainees.

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