Police fire tear gas as protesters rally in Sudan
KHARTOUM - Sudanese police fired tear gas at protesters defying a nationwide state of emergency on Thursday, with demonstrators rallying in the capital Khartoum and elsewhere according to witnesses.
Deadly protests have rocked Sudan for more than three months, with angry protesters accusing Bashir's government of mismanaging the economy, causing food prices to soar and creating shortages of fuel and foreign currency.
On Thursday protesters demonstrated in the capital's districts of Burri and Bahari and in areas of Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.
They were swiftly tear gassed by riot police, according to onlookers.
Protesters also rallied in the town of Madani, southeast of the capital, and also in a town in the state of North Kordofan, witnesses said by telephone.
"Protesters chanted anti-government slogans as they gathered in Madani's main market, but they were confronted with tear gas," a resident of Madani said on condition of anonymity.
Protests first erupted on December 19 in the central town of Atbara in response to a government decision to triple the price of bread.
They swiftly escalated into nationwide demonstrations calling for an end to the rule of Bashir, who swept to power in a 1989 coup.
Bashir has remained defiant and following an initial crackdown on protests he imposed a year-long state of emergency, which was cut by parliament to six months.
Officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence, but Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 51, including children and medics.
Several demonstrators have been jailed by special emergency courts set up to investigate violations of the state of emergency.
Since the new measures came into effect the scale and intensity of protests have shrunk, with once daily demonstrations turning into weekly rallies mostly held on Thursdays.
The protest movement, seen by analysts as the biggest challenge to Bashir's rule as yet, was initially led by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA).
But several political parties have since then joined the SPA to form an umbrella group called the Alliance for Freedom and Change, which is calling for protests against the veteran leader's rule.