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Taha describes Sudan’s protesters as “doom-mongers” ahead of planned demos on Friday

June 26, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s First Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha has described the country’s protesters as “doom-mongers” as they plan massive demonstrations on Friday.

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Sudan’s Vice President Ali Osman Taha (Reuters)

Addressing celebrations of inaugurating a number of development projects in Sinnar State on Tuesday, Taha said that attempts by “doom-mongers” to mobilize the streets and topple the regime had failed because the public “understands” the nature of the reforms the government is undertaking to stimulate the economy.

Taha was referring to the protest movement that has been spreading across the country for the past ten days following the government’s ending of fuel subsides as part of what officials say is an austerity plan needed to make up for a budget deficit of 2.4 billion US dollars, created as a result of the loss of nearly 75 percent of the country’s oil production which was acquired by South Sudan when it seceded in July last year.

The protests, which were initially started by students, began to widen as of Friday, 22 June, spreading to several parts of the capital as well as regional towns including Al-Obayid in North Kordofan, Madani in Al-Jazzera State and Port Sudan in the Red Sea State.

In his speech, which was broadcast by state-owned television stations, Taha said that the government is determined to go ahead with its plans to save the economy from collapse.

He further claimed that the protesters had failed to appeal to the Sudanese people to support them because the people support the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

“Some doom-mongers in the states and Khartoum thought they could uproot the Tree [the logo of the NCP] but the people raced to water it with determination, loyalty and support to deepen its roots,” he said.

Taha’s attempt to undermine the protests follows that of his boss, President Omer Al-Bashir, who in an address on Sunday dismissed the protests as the work of “few agitators” and “alien bubbles.”

Another NCP official, Mustafa Osman Ismail, has described the protesters as “bats.”

On the other hand, Sudanese activists have been galvanizing support for a massive protest on Friday under the slogan “the Friday of elbow-licking”, in reference to the phrase “lick your elbow” which the NCP’s vice chairman, Nafie Ali Nafie, is famous for using to indicate the impossibility of something, as in uprising against the regime.

Meanwhile, the protests continued in several parts of the capital on Tuesday although in a smaller scale than previous days. Activists and anti-government groups say they are preparing for the biggest protest on Friday.

Sudanese activists say between 10,000 and 20,000 people have joined demonstrations in the capital Khartoum alone with several other thousands in the towns of Port Sudan in the Red Sea State, the town of Al-Gadaref in Al-Gadaref State, Kassala in Kassala State, Al-Obayid in North Kordofan State, Kosti in the White Nile State and Darfur.

The activists say they are aiming to end Al-Bashir’s rule by 30 June, the same day in which he seized power in an Islamist backed-coup 22 years ago.