Pro­test­ers die in clashes

Pres­i­dent says protests are part of for­eign plot seek­ing to re­move him from power

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - WORLD NEWS | CLASSIFIEDS - Hamza Hen­dawi

CAIRO — Three Su­danese pro­test­ers were killed in clashes be­tween po­lice and demon­stra­tors call­ing on long­time Pres­i­dent Omar al- Bashir to step down, ac­tivists said Thurs­day, in the most vi­o­lent protests seen in the Su­danese cap­i­tal since anti- gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions erupted across much of Su­dan three weeks ago.

They said the three were killed Wed­nes­day in Om­dur­man, twin city of the Su­danese cap­i­tal Khar­toum, where sev­eral thou­sand pro­test­ers tried to march on Par­lia­ment to sub­mit a note de­mand­ing that alBashir re­sign. They said eight oth­ers were in­jured. They said po­lice used tear gas and fired in the air to dis­perse the pro­test­ers, the lat­est such clashes in three weeks of anti- gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions ini­tially sparked by price rises and short­ages.

The ac­tivists said at least two of the three died of gun­shot wounds in what they de­scribed as the most vi­o­lent clashes be­tween po­lice and pro­test­ers since the cur­rent un­rest be­gan Dec 19. The pro­test­ers and the po­lice fought pitched bat­tles well after night­fall, with riot po­lice chas­ing pro­test­ers into small side streets only for them to re­group and try to re­sume their at­tempt to reach the Nile- side Par­lia­ment build­ing in Om­dur­man.

Om­dur­man is a tra­di­tional bas­tion of dis­sent and is a strong­hold of sup­port­ers of the large but frac­tured Umma party of for­mer prime min­is­ter Sadeq al- Mahdi.

Umm Kalthoum, a 25- year- old uni­ver­sity grad­u­ate, was among those who protested for hours Wed­nes­day, brav­ing the tear gas and the live am­mu­ni­tion.

“This regime must go be­cause con­di­tions are wors­en­ing by the day,” she said, ex­plain­ing that she works as a cleaner in com­pany of­fices for lack of a job bet­ter suited for her ac­count­ing de­gree. “I had to cast aside my fear and hes­i­ta­tion and go out and protest. This is my first protest. I have no other choice,” said Umm Kalthoum, out of breath and wear­ing a mask to fend off tear gas. She did not want to give her full name for fear of reprisals.

An­other pro­tester, Ahmed, echoed his de­spair over the econ­omy.

“I am 29 and I am still sin­gle and I don’t think I will ever marry if con­di­tions con­tinue the way they are now,” he said in a barely audi­ble voice after hours of chant­ing. “I can­not find work as an ac­coun­tant so I am do­ing odd jobs when I find them,” said Ahmed, who also wanted to be iden­ti­fied only by his first name for fear of reprisals.

Su­dan’s econ­omy has stag­nated for most of al- Bashir’s rule. He has also failed to unite or keep the peace in the re­li­giously and eth­ni­cally di­verse na­tion, los­ing three quar­ters of Su­dan’s oil wealth when the mainly an­i­mist and Chris­tian south se­ceded in 2011 fol­low­ing a ref­er­en­dum. He is also wanted by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court for geno­cide in Su­dan’s western Dar­fur re­gion.

An Is­lamist who has been in power since he led a mil­i­tary coup in 1989, he has said those seek­ing to oust him can only do so through elec­tions. He has in­sisted that the protests are part of a for­eign plot to un­der­mine Su­dan’s “Is­lamic ex­pe­ri­ence” and blamed the coun­try’s wors­en­ing eco­nomic cri­sis on in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions.

Al­ready among the long­est serv­ing lead­ers in the re­gion, al- Bashir hopes to win an­other term in of­fice dur­ing elec­tions next year. In a bid to pla­cate pop­u­lar anger over his eco­nomic poli­cies, he has promised higher wages, more ben­e­fits for pen­sion­ers and an over­haul of the coun­try’s frag­ile bank­ing sys­tem. His prom­ises have been dis­missed by crit­ics as un­ten­able

The ac­tivists ear­lier said there were only two fa­tal­i­ties from Wed­nes­day’s clashes, but they later said the body of a pro­tester orig­i­nally thought to be miss­ing was found at a Khar­toum hos­pi­tal morgue.

Late last month, Su­danese au­thor­i­ties said 19 peo­ple, in­clud­ing two mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces, were killed in the clashes that be­gan Dec 19 and more than 800 pro­test­ers de­tained. But Hu­man Rights Watch said Tues­day that at least 40 peo­ple have been killed. Al- Bashir has sought to jus­tify the killing of pro­test­ers on re­li­gious grounds.

Mah­moud hjaj/ the as­so­ciat ed press

Su­dan’s Pres­i­dent Omar al- Bashir ad­dresses sup­port­ers at a rally in Khar­toum, Su­dan, on Wed­nes­day. Three pro­test­ers were killed Wed­nes­day in the most vi­o­lent protests since demon­stra­tions be­gan on Dec. 19.

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