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Sudan: Bread Protests Continue, Police Arrest Political Figures

Sudan: Bread Protests Continue, Police Arrest Political Figures

Thursday, 18 January, 2018 - 10:00
A man works at a bakery in Khartoum, Sudan, on January 5, 2018. (AFP PHOTO)

Bread protests in Sudan entered a new phase on Wednesday with the arrest of a number of leaders of Sudanese parties, while security authorities resorted to more violence to disperse hundreds of people who tried to gather in Omdurman square.

Sudanese demonstrators are protesting the policies of President Omar al-Bashir’s regime and the insane price rise of major consumer goods, mainly bread.

Vice President of the National Umma Party Mohammed Abdullah al-Duma and member of Communist Party's board Muhammad Mukhtar al-Khatib, were arrested, as well as four children of political and religious leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, including three women. They were detained and beaten in front of journalists, before being taken to an unknown destination.

After the protests, al-Mahdi called on the Sudanese people to mobilize to overthrow the regime peacefully.

The coalition of opposition forces, consisting of 30 parties, namely the National Umma Party led by Mahdi, Communist Party, Sudanese Congress Party, and the Baath Socialist Party, asked their supporters to demonstrate in Omdurman square. 

Before the protesters gathered, police fired tear gas, preventing them from reaching the location set for the demonstration.

Protesters chanted anti-government slogans, while policemen in civilian clothes used stun guns and attacked the crowd. A number of citizens were injured, including al-Mahdi's grandson and journalist Bahram Abdul-Moneim, whose arm was broken.

Abdul-Moneim told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was carrying out his tasks when he fainted after being attacked with stun guns.

On Wednesday, the opposition, led by the Sudanese Communist Party, organized a protest against high prices and vowed to continue the protests in Omdurman until the regime is overthrown and a peaceful and democratic transition is achieved.

At the end of the protest, National Umma Party President Sadiq al-Mahdi said in a joint press conference with opposition leaders that Bashir's regime ended the national dialogue.

Mahdi dubbed the regime as a "liar," adding: "He called for a national dialogue, which he gave up on quickly and did not abide by its results.”

Mahdi called on the citizens to mobilize to topple the regime through peaceful means. At the same time, he called on the Sudanese security agencies to protect citizens.

The opposition parties agreed on seven goals, including overthrowing the regime through peaceful public protest, while guaranteeing human rights and forming a transitional national government until free and fair elections are held.

The parties agreed to "establish a just and comprehensive peace agreement" with the armed movements, based on eliminating all causes of conflict, defining diversity management in Sudan and implementing agreed alternative policies in all economic, political and social fields. After which, the parties stated, a national constitutional convention will be held to create a permanent constitution.

General Secretary of Sudan's Baath Party Yahya Mohammed al-Hussein highlighted the policies of the ruling regime that pushed the opposition to reach what he called "the advanced stage of unity."

"This is a unity that has not been seen in the country for a long time," he said.

He concluded: "I am optimistic that the unity reached by the opposition is different from the previous one, and will not come to an end after the elections."

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