Sudan's Bashir visits Qatar amid ongoing protests
DOHA - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will visit Qatar, state media in the Gulf state said Monday, in what would be his first trip abroad since widespread protests began against his rule.
Bashir would arrive in Doha on Tuesday and meet the country's ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the following day, according to the Qatar News Agency.
"Brotherly relations between the two countries will be discussed," at the two leaders' meeting as well as issues of mutual interest, said the QNA.
No further details were given.
Anti-government protests against Bashir's iron-fisted rule began on December 19 after his government's decision to triple the price of bread.
The demonstrations have spread to several cities and officials say 26 people have died so far in the protests, while rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at more than 40.
They are the biggest challenge yet to the authority of Bashir, who swept to power in 1989 in an Islamist-backed coup.
Sudan is facing an economic crisis, driven by a shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation.
Bashir has pointed the finger at "conspirators" for causing the violence without specifying who they were.
Qatar and Sudan are long-term allies.
The Gulf state has mediated between Khartoum and rebel groups involved in the Darfur conflict.
An estimated 60,000 Sudanese live in Qatar.
Bashir's regime has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and he has been charged by The Hague-based International Criminal Court for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.