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TheEastAfrican.co.ke: Sudanese protest economic woes as police close roads

Posted by: Berhane.Habtemariam59@web.de

Date: Thursday, 22 October 2020

demo

Sudanese protesters take to the streets on October 21, 2020, in Khartoum and neighbouring cities against a worsening economic crisis, and to demand justice for people killed during past demonstrations that toppled president Omar al-Bashir. PHOTO | AFP

By AFP
 
By MAWAHIB ABDALLATIF
 
Thursday October 22 2020

Sudanese security forces closed off major thoroughfares in the heart of the capital before dawn on Wednesday following online calls for renewed protests against a worsening economic crisis.

Police manned roadblocks on the main bridges across the Nile as well as on roads leading to army headquarters, the site of a long-running protest camp during the unrest that led to the ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. 

Vehicles carrying armed soldiers deployed across the city, an AFP correspondent reported.

"We apologise to the people of Khartoum State for the impact of closing the city's bridges as a precaution, from midnight Tuesday until Wednesday evening," the state government said. 

The government said it was closing the roads as a precaution against protests meant to commemorate Sudan’s revolutionary path.

On one hand, protesters were seeking to mark the first popular revolution since Sudan's independence in 1951 against a totalitarian regime that broke out on October 21, 1964, and toppled former president Ibrahim Abboud.

It has since become a point of reference for subsequent revolutions. Some political parties and trade unions that originally supported it have often demanded to mark the day every year.

On the other hand, supporters of the current transitional government under Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and those in support of the regime of ousted president Omar al-Bashir had turned up in central Khartoum. Security forces demanded they clear from the streets as they shut down main roads.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, a trade union alliance that spearheaded the protests against Bashir, had called for fresh demonstrations against economic conditions that have continued to deteriorate since his overthrow. 

"Transitional authorities have completed more than a year (in power), and the crises are frighteningly increasing by the day," the SPA said in a Tuesday statement. 

"Living hardship is no longer bearable, and people spend their days gasping after basic needs of bread and fuel," it added, describing the government's performance as "turbulent and weak."

Demos

Processions were witnessed on Wednesday in a number of other states of Sudan and in the capital Khartoum with protesters demanding the completion of the civil authority structures as agreed under the transitional government as well as addressing the economic issues.

Demonstrators chanted slogans of “Thank you Hamdok” and “We want to correct the revolution”.

Still, pockets of other demonstrators in parts of Khartoum denounced the transitional government for failing to arrest the economic situation.

The goals of the demonstrations varied, with political organisations affiliated with the former regime demanding the overthrow of the government, while professional organisations and political parties loyal to the transitional government calling for it to complete the goals of the revolution including economic revival, political freedoms, and an end to conflict.

Transition

Sudan has embarked on a rocky three-year transition during which civilian politicians have agreed to share power with the generals who removed Bashir in a palace coup.

A chronic shortage of hard currency has led to long queues for staple foods and fuel, and power cuts lasting up to six hours a day. 

The inflation rate hit 212 percent last month, further sapping the purchasing power of ordinary Sudanese. 

The transitional authorities have been pushing to end the country's isolation and lift decades-long US sanctions that have strangled the economy. 

On Monday, President Donald Trump declared his readiness to remove Sudan from a US blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, a move Sudanese officials hailed as a vital step towards securing debt relief and spurring economic recovery.


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