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Posts tagged ‘Sadiq al-Mahdi’

Police ‘attack’ as Sudan protesters gather at mosques.


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  • An image grab taken from AFPTV shows a Sudanese youth wearing a football jersey as he observes riot policemen taking position outside the Wad Nabawi mosque in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman. Sudanese police on Friday "attacked" with tear gas and rubber bullets as demonstrators gathered at mosques for weekly anti-regime protests sparked by inflation, a rights group said. (AFP Photo/)An image grab taken from AFPTV …
  • Smoke rises from burning tyres during protests in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum in June 2012. Sudanese police on Friday "attacked" with tear gas and rubber bullets as demonstrators gathered at mosques for weekly anti-regime protests sparked by inflation, a rights group said. (AFP Photo/Ian Timbarlake)Smoke rises from burning tyres …

Sudanese police on Friday “attacked” with tear gas and rubber bullets as demonstrators gathered at mosques for weekly anti-regime protests sparked by inflation, a rights group said.

“Still large numbers of police forces are surrounding the central mosques,” said an official of the Organisation for Defence of Rights and Freedoms, representing political, media, trade union and other activists promoting human rights.

“It seems rubber bullets and tear gas were used,” he said, adding that information was still preliminary.

One of the mosques targeted was that of the opposition Umma party in Khartoum‘s twin city of Omdurman, said the official, asking not to be named.

Video images showed dozens of people marching outside the party’s Wad Nubawi mosque, chanting and calling for the regime’s overthrow. Some held signs.

“We got out to the square peacefully,” and then police responded, one demonstrator said.

Video showed police on pickup trucks firing tear gas, sending the crowd scattering.

Wad Nubawi was also a focus of demonstrators a week earlier, when hundreds who gathered were also confronted with tear gas and rubber bullets, witnesses said at the time.

Umma party officials could not immediately comment.

The official with the rights group said there had been arrests.

Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel told AFP that its crew was briefly detained and the cameraman roughed up while reporting at Wad Nubawi.

In another district of Khartoum, an AFP reporter saw helmeted police stop to remove stones blocking a main road, a common tactic of demonstrators.

Protests against high food prices began on June 16 at the University of Khartoum.

After President Omar al-Bashir announced austerity measures, including tax hikes and an end to cheap fuel, demonstrations spread to include a cross-section of people around the capital and in other parts of Sudan.

Friday has now become the focus of the demonstrations, which initially involved groups of 100 or 200 people daily burning tyres, throwing stones and blocking roads in a call for regime change sparked by high inflation.

Opposition parties on Wednesday signed a charter to step up anti-regime protests by mobilising their members against the current political system. Umma, led by former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, is a key member of the opposition alliance.

Bashir seized power from Mahdi, who was democratically elected, and established his Islamist regime on June 30, 1989.

Activists, however, have dismissed the political opposition as weak. “They are not mobilising much at the grassroots,” a veteran activist said ahead of Friday’s protests.

Bashir has played down the current demonstrations as small-scale and not comparable to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere, maintaining that he himself remains popular.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

AFPBy Ian Timberlake | AFP

Sudan opposition pledges to step up protests.


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  • Sudanese security forces pass through a Khartoum street on July 2 in the midst of a security clampdown to confront unprecedented anti-regime protests, sparked by inflation. Sudan's opposition parties have pledged to step up anti-regime protests, their alliance said on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the start of the unprecedented public demonstrations. (AFP Photo/Ian Timbarlake)Sudanese security forces pass through …
  • Smoke rises from burning tyres during protests in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in June 2012. Sudan's opposition parties have pledged to step up anti-regime protests, their alliance said on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the start of unprecedented public demonstrations sparked by inflation. (AFP Photo/Ian Timbarlake)Smoke rises from burning tyres …

Sudan’s opposition parties have pledged to step up anti-regime protests, their alliance said on Thursday, nearly three weeks after the start of unprecedented public demonstrations sparked by inflation.

About 17 political parties on Wednesday signed a charter “to dismantle the one-party regime and bring about a multi-party system,” Farouk Abu Issa, head of the opposition coalition, told AFP.

The change will come “by mobilising our people” with larger peaceful protests against the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), including on Friday which has become a focus of anti-government demonstrations, he said.

“This is the way we have chosen,” Abu Issa added.

Non-governmental organisations and individuals also signed the pact.

Protests against high food prices began on June 16 at the University of Khartoum.

After President Omar al-Bashir announced austerity measures, including tax hikes and an end to cheap fuel, the protests spread to include a cross-section of people around the capital and in other parts of Sudan.

Demonstrators have burned tyres, thrown stones and blocked roads in a call for regime change that has been met by what the European Union called “a violent crackdown.”

Last Friday, hundreds of protesters who gathered beside the Umma party mosque in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman were confronted with tear gas and rubber bullets, witnesses said.

The Umma party, led by former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, is a key member of the opposition alliance, along with Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi and his Popular Congress Party.

A diplomatic source last week said that opposition parties had been relatively quiet during the protests, and activists have dismissed the political opposition as weak.

But Wednesday’s pact could lead to coordination, which has been missing, between those who have been protesting on the street and the political opposition, one activist said.

“Now hopefully this agreement that they reached yesterday will allow them to make a call… for a national protest,” said the activist, who was previously arrested and asked for anonymity.

“If they do that, that will have a very significant impact because they do have numbers. The Umma party can rally 50,000 people in a day.”

There will be “a huge impact” if imams such as Mahdi ask people to take to the streets in protest after Friday prayers, the activist added.

The NCP’s political secretary, Hasabo Mohammed Abdel Rahman, on Thursday said his party remained committed to dialogue “with all political forces,” the official SUNA news agency said.

He added that numerous parties were participants in the current government, and that those who opposed the austerity measures had presented no economic alternative “but managed to stage protests and demonstrations.”

Abu Issa noted that popular mobilisation has twice toppled regimes in Sudanese history.

In 1964, the death of student activist Ahmed al-Qureshi sparked the “October Revolution” which brought down the military government then in power after tens of thousands protested.

During an economic crisis in 1985, huge crowds marched in an uprising which led to the bloodless overthrow of president Gaafar al-Nimeiry.

On June 30, 1989, Bashir seized power from Mahdi, who was democratically elected.

Under the current regime the civil service, military and “all governmental institutions have been hijacked by the National Congress Party,” Abu Issa said.

He vowed to form a coalition government that respects international norms of civil liberties, has “brotherly” relations with South Sudan and responds to the demands of people in the Darfur region.

Abu Issa said he would not exclude the NCP if they wanted to join as “partners”.

Bashir has played down the current demonstrations as small-scale and not comparable to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere, maintaining that he himself remains popular.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

AFPBy Ian Timberlake | AFP 

Sudan opposition calls for strikes, protests.


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  • Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir waves to supporters after receiving victory greetings at the Defence Ministry, in Khartoum April 20, 2012. REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin AbdallahSudanese President Omar Hassan …

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan‘s main opposition parties on Wednesday called for strikes, sit-ins and demonstrations to topple the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, throwing their weight behind anti-austerity protests.

              The Arab-African country has been mired in an economic crisis since oil-producing South Sudan seceded a year ago, and tough spending cuts aimed at plugging a budget gap prompted protests across the country about two and a half weeks ago.

              Opposition parties, struggling with an image as fractious and ineffective, had so far only voiced limited support for the demonstrations, which have rarely mustered more than a few hundred people at a time.

              Large demonstrations have been relatively rare in Sudan, which has so far avoided the “Arab Spring” protest movements in Egypt and Libya. Security forces usually quickly disperse protests.

              The main opposition groups on Wednesday signed a pact calling for “collective, peaceful political struggle in all its forms… to overthrow the regime” including “strikes, peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins and civil disobedience”.

              Supporters outside the National Unionist Party‘s Office in the Khartoum suburb of Omdurman, chanted “revolution, revolution until victory”, before the deal was signed.

Farouk Abu Issa, head of the National Consensus Forces, an umbrella group of opposition parties, said the deal – which vowed to carry out a “democratic alternative programme” after the current government fell – would fuel more demonstrations.

“We want to rally our people, organise our people so that they stand fast with us in achieving our goal in toppling this regime,” he told Reuters after the deal was signed.

It was not clear when the opposition leaders planned to bring their members to the streets in force, but activists have called for more demonstrations on Friday.

GOVERNMENT PLAYS DOWN PROTESTS

If Bashir – in power since a bloodless 1989 coup – and his ruling National Congress Party were deposed, a ceasefire would be declared on all fronts against the multiple armed insurgencies Sudan is facing, the document said.

The parties also agreed to cancel laws restricting freedoms, hold a national constitutional conference, prepare the country for free elections and carry out a variety of other reforms.

The government already fighting armed insurgencies in its western Darfur region and in two southern border states, has played down the protests.

              Information Ministry official Rabie Abdelati said the opposition parties did not have the popular momentum to turn their vows into action. “They have no support from the people,” he said. “We are not bothering about what they are saying.”

              The opposition leaders who signed the deal included Hassan al-Turabi, head of the Popular Congress Party, who was once one of the most powerful figures in Sudanese politics but whose influence has declined since he fell out with Bashir in the late 90s.

              They also included the general secretary of the Umma party, whose leader Sadeq al-Mahdi was elected premier in 1986 after mass protests, mainly against food inflation, ousted the country’s military ruler a year earlier.

              Student activists have mostly led Sudan’s recent protests, trying to use discontent over soaring food and other prices to build a broader movement to topple the government and make the political system more democratic.

              Officials have dismissed the demonstrations as the work of a handful of agitators whose aims are not shared by the majority of Sudanese and blamed “Zionist institutions” for stoking the unrest.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

ReutersBy Alexander Dziadosz | Reuters

1,000 held, hundreds hurt in Sudan demos: activists.


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  • Smoke rises from burning tyres during protests in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on June 22. About 1,000 people were detained and hundreds injured during anti-regime protests on June 29, a Sudanese activist group said on the anniversary of President Omar al-Bashir's coup. (AFP Photo/Ian Timbarlake)Smoke rises from burning tyres …
  • Sudanese queue in a petrol station to fuel their vehicles in the capital Khartoum on June 21. About 1,000 people were detained and hundreds injured -- many by tear gas -- during anti-regime protests in Sudan, an activist group told AFP on the anniversary of President Omar al-Bashir's (AFP Photo/Ashraf Shazly)Sudanese queue in a petrol station …

About 1,000 people were arrested and hundreds hurt, many by tear gas, during anti-regime protests in Sudan on Friday, an activist group said on Saturday’s anniversary of President Omar al-Bashir‘s coup.

The information minister called the protesters “rioters” who threaten the country’s stability.

“Some were arrested and released,” said an official from the Organisation for Defence of Rights and Freedoms.

The group’s figures indicate a dramatic rise in the number of arrests on Friday, the 14th day of anti-regime demonstrations sparked by inflation.

“The figure of those arrested before yesterday (Friday) was about 1,000 in the whole country,” said the official who asked not to be identified because of the tense situation.

Many are still being held in prisons or “ghost houses,” the location of which is unknown, he alleged.

“They don’t tell you where they are. You are not even allowed to ask,” he said.

One of those detained was Sudanese journalist Talal Saad, who had taken some freelance photos of the protests to the AFP bureau in Khartoum on Friday.

Armed national security agents raided the bureau, ordered AFP’s correspondent to delete the photos and then detained Saad for almost 24 hours.

Saad called AFP on Saturday evening to say he had been released and was fine.

Police said “some of the rioters” were arrested and would be brought to trial after “small groups” demonstrated in Khartoum and elsewhere.

Police contained the situation “with a minimum use of force,” they said.

The Organisation for Defence of Rights and Freedoms said “a few hundred” people were injured during the Friday protests.

Many elderly people were affected by tear gas, but other injuries came from rubber bullets, tear gas canisters or beatings, the rights group official said.

Information Minister Ghazi Al-Sadiq issued an appeal for people “not to allow the rioters to undermine security and stability of the Sudan.”

In a statement on the official SUNA news agency, he said Sudanese have the right to peaceful expression without resorting to violence “to allow the enemies to exploit these protests to carry out foreign agendas against the country.”

Activists had called for a major day of protest on Friday.

In one key disturbance, witnesses said police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of peaceful protesters who had gathered in Hijra Square beside the mosque of the opposition Umma party in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.

One witness said demonstrators carried Sudanese flags and banners reading “The people want the regime to fall,” a slogan used by protesters during the Arab Spring uprisings against regional strongmen over the past year.

They burned tyres and threw stones at police before running for cover, the witness said.

Similar running battles between protesters and police took place elsewhere in Khartoum, the witness added.

International criticism of Sudan’s crackdown increased, with Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird condemning “the arrests of bloggers, journalists and political activists”.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has urged the government to avoid “heavy-handed suppression” of protests and to immediately release those detained for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

Britain and the United States have also sought the release of those detained for peaceful protest.

On June 30, 1989, Bashir seized power from democratically elected prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, who currently leads the Umma party.

Bashir was declared winner of a multi-party election in 2010, but observers from the European Union and the US-based Carter Centre said the ballot failed to come up to international standards.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide allegedly committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

He has played down the demonstrations as small-scale and not comparable to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere, maintaining that he himself remains popular.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

AFPBy Ian Timberlake | AFP 

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