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Sudan police fire teargas at Bashir supporters: witnesses

The protesters -- who lambasted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok's recent austerity policies and higher food prices -- rallied in defiance of a ban on large gatherings to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

FILE: Omar al-Bashir is escorted before being driven in an armed convoy from the Kober prison to the prosecutor's office in North Khartoum on 16 June 2019. Picture: AFP

KHARTOUM - Sudanese police fired teargas Thursday at backers of ousted president Omar al-Bashir who demonstrated outside the army command's headquarters in Khartoum, demanding the fall of the transitional government, witnesses said.

The protesters -- who lambasted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok's recent austerity policies and higher food prices -- rallied in defiance of a ban on large gatherings to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

"Dozens arrived in front of the Armed Forces' General Command from the east, carrying signs calling for the downfall of the Hamdok government," an eyewitness told AFP.

"Some (signs) read 'No, no to the government of hunger'."

The brief and small-scale protest was quickly dispersed by police, with army soldiers also posted at the site.

The demonstration comes a year after long-time autocrat Bashir was removed from power following large-scale protests.

The popular uprising led to the formation of a transitional political authority, comprised of military and civilian figures.

Thursday's small rally was the first in which protesters have reached the army's central command area since last June, when a sit-in protest there was bloodily dispersed.

Sudan has announced a three-week curfew starting Saturday in Khartoum state, including the capital and its twin city Omdurman, after reporting its biggest daily jump in confirmed novel coronavirus cases.

Thirty-two cases of the coronavirus have been officially recorded so far.

Despite Sudan's political transition, which has raised hopes of more reforms, the economy remains in deep crisis.

Many in Sudan still have to queue for hours to buy bread.

Last week, Sudanese authorities announced an increase in bread prices, meaning one Sudanese pound (about two US cents) now buys only a 50-gram loaf of bread, compared to one weighing 70 grams previously.

A tripling of the price of bread was the trigger for the first street protests against Bashir in December 2018.

The demonstrations went on for months before the army deposed the longtime ruler on 11 April 2019.