Inside Africa

Sudan police fire tear gas as protesters rally afresh

15 minutes ago | Sudan Sudan police fire tear gas as protesters rally afresh By AFP Sudanese protesters wave the national flag and chant slogans during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on January 31, 2019. By STRINGER (AFP)

Sudanese police fired tear gas at crowds of demonstrators in the capital and other cities on Thursday, witnesses said, as new protests demanded an end to President Omar al-Bashir's three-decade rule.

Chanting "freedom, peace, justice" — the rallying cry of the protest movement that has rocked Sudan for weeks — demonstrators took to the streets in both Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman.

"Riot police are firing tear gas at protesters in north Khartoum but they are still demonstrating," a witness told AFP, declining to reveal his identity out of fear for his safety.

"The police is firing tear gas but we will not stop," said a demonstrator from north Khartoum.

In the capital's eastern neighbourhood of Burri — a site of regular protests — demonstrators clapped, whistled and banged plastic water bottles, as some set tyres and tree trunks on fire, sending thick plumes of smoke into the sky, witnesses said.

Protesters demonstrated for several hours on a key street of Omdurman, witnesses said.

Protesters in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on January 31, 2019, taking part in one of several new rallies against President Omar al-Bashir's rule.  By STRINGER (AFP) Protesters in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on January 31, 2019, taking part in one of several new rallies against President Omar al-Bashir's rule. By STRINGER (AFP)

"Crowds of demonstrators controlled Street 40 of Omdurman for hours, but now riot police are pushing them back with tear gas," a witness said.

Protesters also gathered in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan, in several villages in Jazeera State, south of the capital, and in the central town of Madani, witnesses said.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas after "many demonstrators gathered at the main bus station of Port Sudan".

Protesters in Madani, where several rallies have been staged since December, were also met with tear gas, witnesses said.

"The police are chasing us in streets and alleys. They are firing tear gas but we are still demonstrating," a protester said.

Bashir mocks campaigners

Late on Thursday, police said several protesters and policemen were wounded during demonstrations.

"There were some illegal gatherings in Khartoum state and other states, which the police dispersed as per law," police spokesman General Hashim Abdelrahim said in a statement.

"There are some police as well as demonstrators who are wounded, some with stones and some with tear gas."

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which has headed the protest movement, has called for daily demonstrations but few have been reported in recent days.

Demonstrations which erupted on December 19 against the government's decision to triple the price of bread have mushroomed into broader protests widely seen as the biggest threat to President Omar al-Bashir's three-decade rule.  By - (AFP/File) Demonstrations which erupted on December 19 against the government's decision to triple the price of bread have mushroomed into broader protests widely seen as the biggest threat to President Omar al-Bashir's three-decade rule. By – (AFP/File)

Demonstrations began in the farming town of Atbara on December 19 over the government's decision to triple the price of bread.

They quickly mushroomed into nationwide protests widely seen as the biggest threat to Bashir's rule since he took power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.

Officials say 30 people have died in violence related to the protests.

Human rights groups say children and medics have been among more than 40 people killed since December 19.

Anger has been mounting for years over deteriorating living conditions and growing economic hardship in the east African country.

Sudan's economic woes triggered mass protests in 2013 that were put down at the cost of dozens of deaths.

Bashir has remained defiant, addressing loyalist counter demonstrations and visiting regional allies to seek support.

A Sudanese protester holds a placard with an anti-corruption slogan in Omdurman on January 31, 2019.  By STRINGER (AFP) A Sudanese protester holds a placard with an anti-corruption slogan in Omdurman on January 31, 2019. By STRINGER (AFP)

At a rally on Thursday, Bashir mocked his opponents' use of social media to mobilise protests against his rule.

"Changing the government or presidents cannot be done through WhatsApp or Facebook," Bashir told the crowd. "It can be done only through elections."

A top Sudanese general on Wednesday warned that the army will not let the country slip into turmoil amid the protests.

"We will not allow the Sudanese state to collapse or fall into chaos," army chief of staff Kamal Abdelmarouf told a meeting with top military officers in Khartoum.

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