A Sudanese protester was killed late Wednesday as security forces moved to disperse demonstrations against the transitional government’s failure to address a deepening economic crisis, doctors close to the protesters said.
At least 14 protesters were also wounded and more suffered breathing difficulties as a result of the “extreme violence” used by police to snuff out the demonstrations in the capital Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman, the medics said.
Police fired live rounds as well as tear gas to clear the protesters from the streets and a 20-year-old died from a police bullet in an eastern district of Khartoum, they added.
Wednesday’s protests were called by the Sudanese Professionals Association, the same trade union alliance that spearheaded protests that led to the ouster of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in April last year.
The large police and army presence prevented the mass turnout the SPA had called for but a few hundred activists answered the call to protest against plummeting living standards more than a year after the end of Bashir’s three decades in power.
Sudan has embarked on a rocky three-year transition during which civilian politicians have agreed to share power with the generals who removed Bashir in a palace coup.
A chronic shortage of hard currency has led to long queues for staple foods and fuel, and power cuts lasting up to six hours a day.
The inflation rate hit 212 percent last month, further sapping the purchasing power of ordinary Sudanese.
The transitional authorities have been pushing to end the country’s isolation and lift decades-long US sanctions that have strangled the economy.
On Monday, President Donald Trump declared his readiness to remove Sudan from a US blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, a move Sudanese officials hailed as a vital step towards securing debt relief and spurring economic recovery.
But on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again called on Sudan to normalise relations with Israel, a major policy U-turn for Khartoum that the Trump administration had sought to link to its lifting of sanctions.
To exit the blacklist, which has severely impeded investment, cash-strapped Sudan agreed to pay $335 million to survivors and victims’ families from Al-Qaeda twin bombings in 1998 of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. AFP.