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Sudan's Bashir says protests will fail to change government

AFP  |  Khartoum 

said Monday that ongoing protests will not lead to a change in government, as crowds of supporters cheered him at a rally in war-torn

Deadly protests have rocked since December 19 when angry demonstrators took to the streets in towns and villages against a government decision to raise the price of bread.

At least 24 people have died in the protests, which swiftly turned into nationwide anti-government rallies, with protesters calling on Bashir to step down.

"Demonstrations will not change the government," Bashir told crowds of supporters gathered in Niyala, the capital of state, where a day earlier police broke up an anti-government demonstration, state television reported.

"There's only one road to power and that is through the ballot box. The Sudanese people will decide in 2020 who will govern them," said Bashir, who is planning to run for the presidency for the third time in elections to be held next year.

In the initial days of protests, several buildings and offices of Bashir's ruling were set on fire in towns and villages before the demonstrations spread to the capital

"has many enemies and those enemies have few people among us who don't want stability and security," said Bashir, with state television broadcasting footage showing him waving his trademark cane as supporters chanted "stay, stay".

"We will not allow anyone to destroy our homeland by looting and burning our properties," said Bashir as some supporters attended the rally on camels, while many heard him from tree tops.

On Sunday, the first anti-government demonstrations were held by groups of protesters in Niyala and El-Fasher, the capital of North

Darfur, a region the size of France, has been torn by violence since 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum's Arab-dominated government, accusing it of economic and political marginalisation.

About 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict and another 2.5 million displaced, according to the Most of those displaced still live in sprawling camps.

Darfur has been largely calm over the past few months but tensions remain high in the region.

Bashir, who seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has been charged by the Hague-based (ICC) with genocide and crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.

On Monday, he reiterated that faced "economic problems," but said they could not be solved by looting and burning of properties. Meanwhile in Khartoum, Sudanese security agents raided on Monday the offices of the and confiscated its letterheads and stamps, the group said in a statement.

The of the society was also detained, it said. Some unions of doctors are part of an umbrella group called the that has spearheaded the anti-government demonstrations.

On Monday, security agents also stopped a group of journalists in from holding a sit in to protest the banning of Al-Jadida newspaper from publishing for several days, witnesses said.

Sudan is currently ranked 174th out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index, with security agents regularly confiscating entire print runs of newspapers without giving reasons.

Organisers of protests have so far staged hundreds of rallies across the country, including in

They have urged protesters to continue with their demonstrations this week, calling it as the "Week of Uprising".

On Sunday, protesters had rallied in the capital's district chanting "peace, peace" and "revolution is the people's choice," but they were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas.

Rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began, including opposition leaders, activists and journalists as well as demonstrators.

Although the unrest was triggered by the rise in the price of bread, Sudan has faced a mounting economic crisis over the past year, led by an acute shortage of foreign currency.

Repeated shortages of and fuel have been reported across cities, while the cost of and medicine has more than doubled.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, January 14 2019. 21:25 IST