Khartoum protests continue; Bashir promises dialogue


Protesters chanting anti-government slogans took to the streets of neighbourhoods in the Sudanese capital, eyewitnesses said, while President Omar al-Bashir said he would seek dialogue with the opposition for the sake of stability.

In Khartoum’s Burri neighbourhood, a group of protesters including children chanted “the revolution is the choice of the people,” a live video on Facebook showed. A few were drumming while others ululated.

Some wore masks as protection from teargas in the latest near daily protests in Sudan since December 19.

In eastern Khartoum, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters gathered outside a private university, witnesses said. More than 200  marched in one of Khartoum’s main streets, drawing teargas volleys from police.

Bashir, facing the most sustained challenge to his rule since he took power three decades ago, promised during a swearing-in ceremony for a new cabinet he would engage in dialogue with the opposition.

The wave of protest was triggered by price increases and cash shortages.

“Securing peace and silencing the sound of the rifle is our most important priority for the country and we will communicate with the forces who reject dialogue for the sake of political stability,” Bashir said, according to a presidency statement.

In a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, Bashir appointed at least 15 new ministers.

Last month he declared a state of emergency, dissolved central government, replaced state governors with security officials, expanded police powers and banned unlicensed public gatherings.

That did not stop protesters, who held several demonstrations since the new measures were announced.

As part of the emergency measures, courts have tried protesters in evening sessions, sparking more rallies outside court buildings.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over charges of masterminding genocide in the Darfur region, which he denies. He has lobbied for Sudan to be removed from a list of countries Washington considers state sponsors of terrorism.

The listing has blocked the investment and financial aid Sudan hopes for when the United States lifted sanctions in 2017, economists say.

Sudan is expanding its money supply in an attempt to finance its budget deficit, causing spiralling inflation and a steep decline in the value of its currency.