Sudan opposition leader says Bashir ‘must leave’ as hundreds march

Published: Updated:

The leader of Sudan’s largest opposition party demanded that President Omar al-Bashir’s administration bow to mass protests and step down, in an address to hundreds of party supporters in a mosque near Khartoum on Friday.

After Sadiq al-Mahdi’s remarks at Friday prayers, hundreds of protesters then marched through Omdurman, across the River Nile from the capital, and police fired teargas to try to break up the rally.

Students, activists and other protesters have held almost daily demonstrations across Sudan since Dec. 19, calling for an end to economic hardships and mounting the most sustained challenge to President Omar al-Bashir’s three decades in power.

“The most important demand is that this regime must leave and be replaced by a transitional government,” Mahdi said at Al-Sayed Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi mosque, which has links to his Umma Party.

The former prime minister expressed support for the protests and condemned security forces’ use of live bullets, saying more than 50 people had been killed since unrest began. The official death toll stands at 30, including two security personnel.

Protesters also gathered in different neighborhoods in Khartoum. South of the capital, hundreds of protesters blocked a main road, chanting “peaceful, peaceful, against the thieves”, drawing tear gas volleys from police, a Reuters witness said.

Bashir has blamed the protests on foreign “agents” and challenged his rivals to seek power through the ballot box. He has shown no sign that he is prepared to concede any power.

Sudan has been rapidly expanding its money supply in an attempt to finance its budget deficit, causing spiralling inflation and a steep decline in the value of its currency.

Early Friday, AFP quoted police spokesman General Hashim Abdelrahim as saying that two protesters were killed during anti-government demonstrations that rocked Sudan’s capital in the past day.

“There were several illegal gatherings in different states and also in different areas of Khartoum state,” Abdelrahim said.

“Police dispersed them with tear gas. In the state of Khartoum we have recorded two deaths,” he said, without specifying how the people died.

Police had also detained an individual who was carrying a pistol in a demonstration, he said.

A car equipped with “long distance communication equipment” was also captured, he added.