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Dozens rally in Sudan to support ex-president Bashir

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Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses parliament in the capital Khartoum on 1 April 2019 [ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images]

Dozens demonstrated in eastern Sudan on Friday in support of toppled president Omar al-Bashir, eyewitnesses said, a year after the longtime dictator was ousted amid mass protests.

Friday’s demonstrations in the eastern city of Kassala demanded the overthrow of a transitional government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok since September.

“Dozens of Bashir’s supporters gathered in the city centre after Friday prayers, holding banners… and chanting ‘down with Hamdok’,” said eyewitness Abdelrahman Ahmed.

The protests, fuelled by growing economic hardships, were held defiance of a government ban on large gatherings amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Another eyewitness, Hamed Mohamed Shahed, told AFP that protesters had set out from several streets and rallied at a marketplace in the city, close to the border with Eritrea.

There were no immediate reports of the police intervening, but Sudan’s security forces dispersed similar small protests on Thursday outside Khartoum’s army headquarters, site of a weeks-long sit-in last year.

Later, the army had sealed roads leading to the building with concrete blocks and barbed wire, saying they would remain blocked until further notice to “maintain security and stability”.

Bashir was ousted by the army on April 11, 2019 following months of nationwide protests triggered by bread price hikes.

Hamdok took power as head of a transitional government which was sworn in last September, but Sudan’s economy remains in deep crisis.

The secession of oil-rich South Sudan in 2011 hit state revenues.

Despite Washington lifting some sanctions in 2017, Khartoum remains on a US blacklist as a state sponsor of terrorism, stifling investment.

Earlier this month, Sudanese authorities announced another increase in bread prices, with a Sudanese pound now buying only a 50-gramme loaf, down from 70 grammes.

In response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the government has also announced a 24-hour curfew for three weeks starting Saturday across Khartoum state, including the capital and its twin city Omdurman.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sudan have so far reached 32, including five fatalities.

Households continue to suffer from frequent power cuts and most Sudanese still queue up for hours to buy staple foods or to fill their cars with petrol.


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