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Sudan’s President Al-Bashir Says He Will Not Step Down

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has dismissed calls for him to step down on Wednesday as security forces fired tear gas to break up a demonstration in the eastern city of al-Qadarif.

Addressing soldiers at a military base near Atbara, northeast of the capital Khartoum, Bashir scoffed at calls by demonstrators for him to hand over power to the military.

“We have no problem because the army does not move to support traitors, but moves to support the homeland and its achievements,” Bashir said, according to excerpts of the speech broadcast by a TV channel affiliated to his ruling party.

Bashir, a former army general, came to power in an Islamist-backed coup and has held on through successive elections that his opponents say were neither free nor fair.

Protests against price rises and other economic hardship began on December 19 last year. Authorities say 19 people, including two security officials, have been killed, while Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch put the number at double that.

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Security forces have blocked and broken up demonstrations using live ammunition as well as teargas and stun grenades, according to witnesses.

Tuesdays’ demonstration in al-Qadarif was one of the largest demonstrations in recent weeks.

Three residents of al-Qadarif, who were not involved in the protests themselves, said security forces fired tear gas to break up the protest, which was organized by a group of unions known as the Sudanese Association of Professionals.

Governor Al-Tayib Al-Amin told Reuters the protests were limited and that police dealt with the situation professionally.

Britain, the United States, Canada and Norway said in a joint statement on Tuesday that they were concerned about the Sudanese government’s response to the protests.

“We are appalled by reports of deaths and serious injury to those exercising their legitimate right to protest, as well as reports of the use of live ammunition against protesters,” the statement said.

They called on the government to release immediately journalists, opposition leaders, human rights activists, and other protesters now held in detention.

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Written by How Africa

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