Sudan army says will not allow state to collapse amid protest

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Sudan’s army said on Wednesday it will not allow the state to collapse amid nationwide protests, as the defense minister warned of a “plot” to trigger insecurity in the African nation.

Deadly protests have rocked Sudan for weeks now, with protesters calling for an end to President Omar al-Bashir’s three-decade-old rule.

The protests were initially triggered by a government decision to triple the price of bread, but have mushroomed into nationwide anti-government rallies.

The army’s chief of staff, Kamal Abdelmarouf, said on Wednesday the armed forces were ready to face those who destabilized the security of the Sudanese people.

“We will not allow the Sudanese state to collapse or fall into chaos,” he said in a meeting with top military officers in Khartoum, according to a statement issued by the army.

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On Tuesday, similar warnings were issued by Abdelmarouf’s deputy, Essameddine Mubarak, who said that the forces were ready to face any threat to the country.

For years, anger has been mounting across Sudan over growing economic hardships and deteriorating living conditions driven by soaring inflation and shortage of foreign currency.

But the defense minister blamed the recent protests on an unspecified plot.

“Sudanese armed forces are aware of a plot to use the economic situation for triggering insecurity in the country,” Defense Minister Awad Ibnouf said in the military meeting.

Despite nationwide rallies, Bashir has refused to step down and blamed violence at demonstrations on “infiltrators” among the demonstrators.

Conflicting claims regarding toll

Officials say 30 people have died in protest-related violence since the demonstrations began on December 19, while rights groups say more than 40 people have been killed.

Earlier on Wednesday, professors and lecturers from the University of Khartoum held a sit-in protest on campus against Bashir’s government.

“More than 300 professors and lecturers of the university held a sit-in today inside the campus,” Mamduh al-Hassan, a spokesman for the group told AFP.

He said that 531 university staff members had signed a “Khartoum University Professors’ Initiative” listing a series of demands.

“The main demand is that a transitional government be formed in Sudan,” Hassan said, echoing the demand of protesters on the streets calling for an end to Bashir’s iron-fisted rule.

The current protest movement has been led by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, an umbrella group of teachers, doctors and engineers.

Analysts say the movement has emerged as the biggest challenge yet to Bashir’s rule.