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Sudan protesters march on presidential palace

December 25, 2018

The protesters are calling for the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir following days of deadly demonstrations against rising prices and food shortages. Clashes erupted as police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Sudanese demonstrators run from teargas lobbed to disperse them as they march along the street during anti-government protests in Khartoum.
Image: Reuters/M.N. Abdallah

Police used tear gas and fired in the air on Tuesday to disperse thousands of protesters as they threatened to march on the presidential palace to demand the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power since 1989.

The protesters sang patriotic songs and chanted "freedom," ''peaceful, peaceful against the thieves" and "The people want to bring down the regime" as they attempted to march on al-Bashir's palace on the bank of the Blue Nile in the heart of Khartoum.

Organizers said they intended to hand in to the presidency a memo calling for al-Bashir to step down immediately.

The march follows nearly a week of protests initially sparked by the government's decision to triple the price of bread. The protesters are also enraged over shortages of basic goods and a cash crisis.

Lethal force

Official estimates say eight protesters have been killed in the demonstrations, but rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.

"With further protests planned tomorrow (Tuesday), the fact that the security forces are using lethal force so indiscriminately against unarmed protesters is extremely troubling," Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's deputy director for East Africa, the Great Lakes and the Horn, said in a statement on Monday.

In a joint statement late Monday, the United States, Britain, Norway and Canada expressed concern at "credible reports" that Sudan's security forces have used live ammunition against demonstrators.

They urged all parties to avoid violence or the destruction of property while affirming the right of the Sudanese people to peacefully protest to express their "legitimate grievances."

Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans as they march along the street during anti-government protests in Khartoum.
The protesters planned to hand the presidency a memo calling for President al-Bashir to step down.Image: Reuters/M.N. Abdallah

'Real reforms'?

Al-Bashir, who seized power 29 years ago after overthrowing an elected government, sought to pacify the protesters on Monday by pledging "real reforms" to solve Sudan's economic woes. He also warned citizens against what he called "rumor mongers."

Read moreOpinion: Al-Bashir debunks myth of Africa's democratization

Since the demonstrations started spreading on Wednesday, authorities have closed schools and declared states of emergency and curfews in several states. More than a dozen opposition leaders have been arrested amid a near-total news blackout on the protests and tighter than usual censorship of newspapers.

Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against humanity and genocide in the western Darfur region, is seeking a new term in office, with his party loyalists campaigning for constitutional amendments that would allow him to run in the 2020 election.

ap/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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