Sudan protesters chant ‘freedom’ as police fire tear gas

A Sudanese protester waves a national flag during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman on Jan. 31, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 04 February 2019

Sudan protesters chant ‘freedom’ as police fire tear gas

  • Officials say 30 people have died in nationwide protests, but HRW says 51 people have been killed
  • Monday’s demonstrations came after campaigners called for new rallies against the government

KHARTOUM: Crowds of Sudanese protesters chanted “freedom, freedom,” as riot police fired tear gas on anti-government rallies in the capital and its twin city of Omdurman on Monday, witnesses said.

They said protesters took to the streets in two districts of Khartoum and in Omdurman, across the Nile.

Riot police swiftly moved in to disperse the protests, firing tear gas at one of the rallies in Khartoum and in the twin city, according to witnesses.

Even as police fired tear gas, protesters kept up the “freedom, peace, justice” rallying cry of an anti-government campaign that erupted in December, witnesses said.

Monday’s demonstrations came after campaigners called for new rallies this week against the government of President Omar Al-Bashir.

Deadly protests have rocked the east African country since December after cash-strapped Khartoum cut a vital subsidy on bread.

The protests quickly escalated into anti-government demonstrations across cities and towns, with protesters calling on Bashir to step down.

Officials say 30 people have died in nationwide protests, but Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed.

Bashir has remained defiant, addressing loyalists at several rallies across the country and seeking support from regional allies.

On Sunday, he held three rallies in the state of North Kordofan where he pledged to bolster rural growth by undertaking new infrastructure projects.

Bashir and other senior Sudanese officials have repeatedly said the government can only be changed through elections.

The veteran leader, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, is considering running for a third presidential term in polls due next year.

The protest campaign led by the Sudanese Professionals Association is seen as the biggest challenge yet to Bashir’s three-decade rule.

The veteran leader has been on a charm offensive with rallies across the country in a bid to head off weeks of protests seen as the biggest threat to his rule.

On Sunday morning Bashir addressed hundreds of villagers in the day’s first rally, promising to bring clean drinking water to rural areas “across Sudan.”

The speech came after he inaugurated a new 340-kilometer (210 miles) highway linking North Kordofan to Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum.

“Building such a road in present economic conditions is not an easy thing to achieve,” said Bashir, after being escorted to the stage by dozens of men on camels as crowds of villagers clapped and whistled to Sudanese tunes.

“Along this road we will bring electricity to boost the region’s growth.”

Hours later Bashir addressed a second rally where he called on the country’s young men and women to help develop the country.

“The youth, for whom we have built universities, have to be ready to continue with the mission of building a new Sudan,” he said in a village where hundreds had gathered.

The statement came afer Prime Minister Moutaz Mousa Abdallah on Saturday called the protest movement a “respectable youth movement” and said its voice should be heeded.


Lebanon struggles to restore normality amid protests

Anti-government protesters shout slogans against the Lebanese government in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. (AP)
Updated 36 min 49 sec ago

Lebanon struggles to restore normality amid protests

  • The ISG urged Lebanese authorities to address people’s complaints, demanding “structural reforms and responsible and acceptable social changes that truly curb corruption and waste, away from sectarianism

BEIRUT: Lebanese banks will remain closed in light of nationwide protests for the fifth consecutive day, the Association of Banks in Lebanon announced.
However, Banque du Liban, the country’s central bank, on Tuesday provided banks with money from their deposits in order to meet citizens’ needs.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Akram Chehayeb ordered all schools and universities to resume classes on Wednesday “in order to preserve the interests of students and to preserve the academic year.”
Prime Minister Saad Hariri met with the International Support Group (ISG) for Lebanon, which includes envoys from the US, Russia, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the EU, China and the Arab League, as well as the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis.
The ISG urged Lebanese authorities to address people’s complaints, demanding “structural reforms and responsible and acceptable social changes that truly curb corruption and waste, away from sectarianism.”
Such changes, it said, should “ensure proper governance and full accountability, and lead to sustainable and stable growth.”

FASTFACT

International Support Group urges govt to implement ‘structural reforms.’

Kubis said Hariri “committed that the government and its legitimate security forces will continue to protect civilians who are demonstrating peacefully, and will take appropriate measures against any possible violent incitement, to protect public and private property and institutions, and the people’s right to peacefully express their views.”
On behalf of the ISG, Kubis urged “officials and political actors in Lebanon to listen to the legitimate demands of the people, work with them on solutions, apply them, and refrain from any statements and acts that could inflame tensions and incite confrontation and violence.”
After meeting Hariri, Kuwait’s ambassador to Lebanon, Abdel Aal Al-Kinai, said: “Now is not the time to speak but to act.”