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Sudan VP says state of emergency not aimed at protesters


Sudanese protesters take to the streets in the capital Khartoum’s district of Burri to demonstrate against the government on February 24, 2019. – Riot police swiftly confronted protesters in Omdurman and Burri with tear gas, witnesses said, as protest organisers have vowed to continue with daily rallies, accusing President Omar al-Bashir and his officials of economic mismanagement that has led to soaring food prices and shortage of foreign currency. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

Sudan’s vice president said Wednesday a nationwide state of emergency announced last week was not targeted at protesters but aimed at curbing smuggling that was “destroying” the economy.

Awad Ibnouf’s remarks came a day after Western powers led by Washington rebuked Khartoum for what they called a “return to military rule”.

President Omar al-Bashir declared the year-long state of emergency on Friday after a sweeping crackdown led by security agents failed to suppress more than two months of protests.


Bashir announced a slew of measures, including banning any kind of unauthorised demonstrations and gave sweeping powers to security forces to carry out raids and search people.

But Ibnouf said the state of emergency was not linked to the protests against Bashir’s three-decade rule.

“The state of emergency has nothing to do with the demonstrations as those who are demonstrating are Sudanese citizens,” he told reporters after a meeting with Bashir.

“The emergency is meant to curb smuggling that is destroying our economy,” Ibnouf said without elaborating.

Sudanese officials have regularly said that widespread smuggling of gold and other commodities has severely hit an already dilapidated economy.

On Tuesday, the United States, Britain, Norway and Canada expressed concern about the state of emergency.

“Allowing security forces to act with impunity will further erode human rights, governance and effective economic management” in Sudan, the countries said in a joint statement issued by their Khartoum embassies.

“The return to military rule does not create a conducive environment for a renewed political dialogue or credible elections.”

The four nations called on Khartoum to release all detainees held during the ongoing protests.

“Political consensus cannot be achieved by imprisoning, shooting, and criminalising peaceful protesters,” they said.

Sudanese officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence since demonstrations erupted on December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread.

Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed in the protests, which swiftly mushroomed into demonstrations against Bashir’s iron-fisted rule.

Last week the president dissolved the federal and provincial governments and appointed 16 army officers and two officers from the feared National Intelligence and Security Service as provincial governors.

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Omar al-BashirSudan
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