Sudanese protest again against Bashir in Khartoum

Reuters

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - About 1,000 Sudanese staged another protest in Khartoum on Sunday to demand President Omar Hassan al-Bashir resign, a witness said, as the government moved to raise salaries to soften the impact of unpopular austerity measures.

Last week, the government cut back fuel subsidies, which touched off the worst unrest in central Sudan in years. The official death toll stands at 33, but Sudanese rights activists and some diplomats said more than 100 people were killed during clashes with security forces.

The turnout for Sunday's protest was smaller than last week's rallies as people went back to work and life largely returned to normal in the capital.

Some 3,000 people gathered late on Sunday to pay condolences to the family of a pharmacist shot and killed during a protest on Friday, a witness said.

About 1,000 joined a protest afterward, blocking a road in Khartoum's Burri district and shouting "the people want to overthrow the regime" and "freedom, freedom", the witness said. Police and security agents watched the march but did not interfere.

Activists also reported a protest in Port Sudan, the country's biggest port on the Red Sea. Details were not immediately available.

The unrest started last Monday after the government said it was cutting back fuel subsidies again, causing pump prices to nearly double overnight.

The cuts have been driven by a financial crunch since the secession of oil-producing South Sudan in 2011, which deprived Khartoum of three-quarters of the crude output it relied on for state revenues and foreign currency used to import food.

Authorities shut down Sudan's biggest newspaper al-Intibaha, owned by an uncle of Bashir, according to the paper's website. The daily had been campaigning against the cutbacks in fuel subsidies.

The government started preparations to raise salaries for civil servants starting in October, state news agency SUNA said on Sunday. The minimum wage would be also increased retroactively from January.

On Saturday, a group of Islamists and members of Bashir's National Congress Party urged the president to reverse the austerity measures.

The government has scheduled a news conference for Monday, the first since the start of unrest.

The protests are much larger than last year's demonstrations against corruption, rising inflation and early fuel subsidy cuts. But they are tiny compared to the masses who turned out to oust rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.

Bashir has stayed in power despite rebellions, U.S. trade sanctions, an economic crisis, an attempted coup last year and an indictment from the International Criminal Court on charges of masterminding war crimes in the western region of Darfur.

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