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Sudan protesters rally against economic hardship

By AFP - Oct 21,2020 - Last updated at Oct 21,2020

Sudanese protesters take to the streets on Wednesday in Khartoum and neighbouring cities against a worsening economic crisis, and to demand justice for people killed during past demonstrations that toppled president Omar Al Bashir (AFP photo)

KHARTOUM — Sudanese protesters rallied Wednesday against a deepening economic crisis but a large police and army presence prevented mass demonstrations that had been called for online.

The activists in the capital Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman also demanded justice for those killed during the popular uprising that toppled president Omar Al Bashir last year.

Sudan has embarked on a rocky three-year transition since then under a joint civilian-military administration, but has struggled with severe economic woes and skyrocketing consumer prices.

More than 100 protesters were Wednesday chanting anti-government slogans, waving the Sudanese flag and burning car tyres.

Police forces fired teargas to disperse the small gatherings in Omdurman and Khartoum, said eyewitnesses.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, a trade union alliance that spearheaded the protests against Bashir, had also organised Wednesday's rally with online calls.

It condemned the government's "turbulent and weak" performance and charged that the "hardship is no longer bearable", with people struggling to obtain bread and fuel.

A chronic shortage of hard currency in Sudan has led to long queues for staple foods and fuel, and power cuts last up to six hours a day.

The inflation rate hit 212 per cent last month, sapping the purchasing power of ordinary Sudanese.

Security forces closed off major thoroughfares in the heart of the capital.

Police manned roadblocks on the main bridges across the Nile as well as on roads leading to army headquarters, the site of a long-running protest camp during the unrest to Bashir's ouster.

Vehicles carrying armed soldiers deployed across the city, an AFP corespondent reported.

“We apologise to the people of Khartoum State for the impact of closing the city’s bridges as a precaution, from midnight Tuesday until Wednesday evening,” the state government said.

Authorities have vowed to rebuild the economy and to bring to justice those responsible for killing protesters.

More than 250 people were killed during the anti-Bashir protests and the ensuing unrest, according to doctors linked to the protest movement.

The transitional authorities have been pushing to end the country’s isolation and to rebuild its economy.

On Monday, President Donald Trump declared his readiness to remove post-Bashir Sudan from a US blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, a move Khartoum hailed as a vital step towards securing debt relief and spurring economic recovery.

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