Sudan protesters rally despite Bashir ban

Last week, President Omar al-Bashir declared a year-long state of emergency and issued a slew of orders to curb nationwide protests against his rule.

FILE: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Picture: AFP.

KHARTOUM - Hundreds of Sudanese protesters rallied on Thursday against the rule of President Omar al-Bashir in the capital and its twin city of Omdurman despite a ban imposed on unauthorised rallies, witnesses said.

Last week, Bashir declared a year-long state of emergency across the country and issued a slew of orders to curb nationwide protests against his rule, including a ban on any unauthorised rallies.

He also gave sweeping powers to security forces to carry out raids and search people.

But protesters chanting their rallying cry “freedom, peace, justice,” demonstrated across several districts of Khartoum and Omdurman on Thursday, in defiance of the ban, witnesses said.

Riot police confronted the protesters in some districts with tear gas, witnesses said.
“We came out today because we have no alternative,” said protester Siddiq, who gave only his first name for security reasons.

“The only alternative we have is to overthrow this regime. We will continue despite the state of emergency.”

Deadly clashes surrounding protests have rocked Sudan for more than two months, with demonstrators taking to the streets since 19 December after a government decision to triple the price of bread.

The protests swiftly mushroomed into nationwide rallies against Bashir’s rule stretching back three decades, with people calling on him to step down.

Sudanese officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch says at least 51 have been killed, including medics and children.

Bashir, who swept to power in a 1989 Islamist-backed coup, has remained defiant.

Last week, he also dissolved the federal and provincial governments and appointed 16 army officers and two officers from the feared National Intelligence and Security Service as provincial governors.

The United States, Britain, Norway and Canada have criticised the state of emergency, calling it as Sudan’s “return to military rule”.

Khartoum dismissed their rebuke as an “intervention” in its internal affairs.