Sudanses security blocks roads as pro-Bashir protesters march on army headquarters

Sudanese protesters (File/Supplied/Nyamilepedia)

April 17, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) — Sudanese security forces have broken up a protest by hundreds of supporters of ousted president Omar al-Bashir outside the army command’s headquarters in Khartoum, demanding the fall of the transitional government.

Thursday’s 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.

Witnesses said hundreds of demonstrators reached the army headquarters after thousands had earlier protested in the centre of the capital.

The protesters, who railed against Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s recent austerity policies and higher food prices, demonstrated in defiance of a ban on large gatherings to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

The army, which had deployed heavily around the headquarters, denied that tear gas was used to disperse the protesters.

Witnesses also said clashes on Thursday also erupted between Bashir supporters and pro-democracy protesters in Atbara city, in northern Sudan.

The protests came two days ahead of a three-week curfew starting on Saturday in Khartoum state, including the capital and its twin city Omdurman, which was announced after the country reported its biggest daily jump in confirmed novel coronavirus cases.

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

Hamdok sacked Khartoum governor Ahmed Abdoun, the premier’s office announced in a statement later on Thursday.

The governor’s duties would be transferred to the minister of federal government until a new appointment is made, it added.

It was unclear why Abdoun had been removed but some sources told MEE it was because he had objected to the lockdown measures that were to be implemented on Saturday.

‘No bread and no fuel’

Ammar Hassan, 50, said the demonstrators outside the army headquarters had raised “Islamic slogans” calling for the overthrow of Hamdok’s government.

Hassan said the demonstrators also chanted: “No bread and no fuel, down, down Hamdok government” and “Just fall FFC,” referring to the Forces for Freedom and Change movement that led the protests against Bashir who was overthrown by the army last April.

‘The Sudanese people are suffering, they won’t die because of coronavirus, they will die because of hunger… and the government’s failure in this regard is very clear’

Mohamed Ali, a leading member of the United Popular Movement, a coalition which accuses the government of implementing a narrow political agenda hostile to Sudanese Islamic values ​​and identity, said the police had used violence, including sticks and tear gas, to disperse the protests.

“Life has become very difficult and hardship is everywhere, this government has failed to do anything for the Sudanese people,” he said.

“We accepted the will of the young generation that they wanted political change and to remove of Bashir after 30 years in power, but the FFC has stolen their dreams, what we are doing now is correcting the path of the revolution.”

Unbearable economic situation

Hamdok leads a government of technocrats under a power-sharing agreement between the military and civilian groups for a transitional period due to last until late 2022.

Relations between civilians and the military have been tense, and the government has encountered resistance as it tries to implement economic reforms.

Transitional authorities are also taking steps to disempower Bashir’s supporters, including parts of the security services.

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