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Sudan’s opposition demonstrates for the second day as al-Mahdi slams security violence

National Umma Party and Alansar secte leader Sadiq al-Mahdi delivers Eid rl-Fitr sermon in Omdourman on 25 June 2017 (ST Photo)
January 17, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-Mahdi Wednesday strongly slammed the crackdown on a protest in against bread subsidy cuts as the security forces continued to arrest political activists and journalists covering a demonstration.

For the second day, hundreds of the opposition members and supporters took to the street to show their anger against the government’s decision to double the price of bread. But this time the demonstration was held in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman on a call launched by the NUP.

The security forces, even before the protest, arrested Mohamed Mukhtar al-Khatib the political secretary of the Sudanese Communist Party, and Mohamed Aldoma, a NUP deputy chairperson. Also, two daughters of the NUP leader and one of his sons were among the arrested.

Reports by the opposition parties in the capital speak about over 35 people arrested on Wednesday including two journalists; Khalid Abdel Aziz, Reuters correspondent and Abdel Moneim Abu Idriss, the Agence France Presse (AFP) correspondent.

The security forces tried to obstruct a meeting in the NUP premises in Omdurman after the protest and prevented the delivery of chairs.

Speaking in a press conference after the protest, NUP leader Sadiq al-Mahdi strongly denounced the repression of peaceful demonstrators by the security forces which made an excessive use of tear gas to disperse the demonstration on Wednesday.

"The government has breached its commitment to protect peaceful demonstration," Mahdi told the news conference.

"People came out and wanted a peaceful, nonviolent set-in, but the people of violence, sticks and arms attacked them, beat women and the elderly. They also arrested a large number of citizens who were raising peaceful slogans," he said.

"The time has come for a democratic regime," he further said.

The Chairperson of Shura Council of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Kabashur Koko on Wednesday said the peaceful protests are"constitutional" but warned against violation of public order and sabotage of public and private properties.

Al-Mahdi called on the armed opposition groups to declare a comprehensive and open cease-fire to give civilians the opportunity to change the regime through peaceful protests.

The opposition leader who is allied to the rebel groups within the framework of the Sudan Call alliance was referring to a point of view largely admitted by the opposition parties that the armed struggle gave a pretext to the regime to use violence against civilians and confiscate freedoms.

During the press conference, the opposition parties announced the ’Nation’s Salvation Declaration’ where they committed themselves to work together through peaceful means to overthrow the regime and establish a new democratic rule.

The signatories reiterated their determination to resort to protests, general strike, civil disobedience and popular mobilisation to achieve a ’third Sudanese uprising’.

The Sudanese opposition groups were divided over the African Union-brokered process for peace and democratic reforms in Sudan.

The Sudan Call parties led by the NUP joined the armed groups and took part in the process while the National Consensus Forces including the Communist Party rejected the process.

The SPLM-N al-Hilu and the Justice and Equality Movement led by Gibril Ibrahim issued two statements announcing their support to the protests and encouraged their supporters in the capital to join it.

(ST)