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Sudan marks anniversary of uprising that ousted Bashir

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Sudanese protesters wait at a train station in Khartoum to board a train to Atbara on December 19, 2019 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their protest movement that brought down Omar al-Bashir last April after a thirty-year rule. – A year after demonstrations broke out in Sudan over soaring bread prices, celebrations are planned across the country to mark the uprising that brought down veteran autocrat Bashir. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

A year after demonstrations broke out in Sudan over soaring bread prices, celebrations are planned across the country on Thursday to mark the uprising that brought down veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

In the central town of Atbara, the cradle of the revolt, hundreds of people are expected to arrive by train from Khartoum to stay for a week of festivities.

Organised by the transitional government and the protest movement, it is a tribute to the thousands of demonstrators who travelled in the opposite direction to the capital at key moments during the uprising.

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Hundreds of singing, dancing people crammed into the train at Khartoum North station for the 350 kilometre (220 mile) journey to Atbara, forcing organisers to lay on relief buses as well as a second train.

Limia Osman, 23, wearing a Sudanese flag over her shoulders like many of her fellow passengers, said she wanted to “say thank you” to the original protesters in Atbara.

In Khartoum, celebrations are planned in several districts, particularly at the city’s Freedom Square, which was renamed in honour of the protesters.

“I’ll remember the first day of our protest under tear gas and live ammunition, which didn’t stop us,” said Hana Hussein, 21.

“Now we can take to the streets in celebration. It’s a great achievement of our revolution.”

Badr Mohamed, 22, plans to use the uprising anniversary to demand accountability for the killings of fellow protesters.

“I will participate by carrying a banner calling for justice.”

Dozens killed
It was in the dusty streets of Atbara on the banks of the River Nile that Sudanese held their first rallies in December 2018 against a government decision to triple the price of bread.

The protests swept across the African nation and by April, they had toppled Bashir, who had been in power for three decades.

According to doctors linked to the protest movement, more than 250 people were killed in violence related to the demonstrations against Bashir and the military rulers who initially replaced him.

Amnesty International, which says at least 177 people were killed, on Thursday called on Sudan’s transitional authorities to honour their commitments to restore the rule of law and protect human rights.

“The new Sudan authorities must ensure that members of the security forces who committed horrific crimes or used excessive force against protestors are held accountable in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty,” said Amnesty’s Seif Magango.

In August, after protracted talks with the military, protesters and activists won a deal to set up a transitional government and pave the way for civilian rule.

Former senior UN official Abdalla Hamdok, a veteran economist, was appointed transitional prime minister.

Bashir, in prison since his overthrow, was sentenced on Saturday to two years’ detention in a correctional centre for the elderly for corruption — the first of several cases against him.

The charges stemmed from millions of dollars received by the toppled strongman from Saudi Arabia.

Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The accusations relate to his role in the Darfur war that broke out in 2003, when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against his Arab-dominated government, which they accused of marginalising the region.

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Omar al-BashirSudan
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