Sudan protesters rally against state of emergency as new PM sworn in

Sudan protesters rally against state of emergency as new PM sworn in
Protesters in Sudan continue to demonstrate as a new PM is sworn in by Omar al-Bashir.
3 min read
24 February, 2019
Bashir declared a year-long emergency on Friday (Getty)
Hundreds of protesters rallied Sunday against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's decision to impose a nationwide state of emergency, as the longtime leader swore in a new prime minister.

Bashir declared a year-long emergency on Friday after a deadly crackdown failed to suppress weeks of protests that have rocked his three-decade rule.

The president, who swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, also dissolved the cabinet and provincial governments, and pledged to bring in technocrats to help end the economic crisis - the key factor behind the protests.

But on Sunday demonstrators rallied against his latest measures and confronted riot police in the capital Khartoum, its twin city of Omdurman, and in the town of Madani, witnesses said.

"We want to give the president a message that the state of emergency will not deter us," said Sawsan Bashir who participated in the Omdurman rally.

"Our aim is to overthrow this regime and we will do it."

Analysts say the state of emergency was an act of desperation in the face of public anger, and a more violent confrontation between security forces and protesters could not be ruled out.

Protesters also demonstrated in the capital's districts of Burri, Shambat, Street 60 and Al-Mamura, witnesses said.

"In Burri, protesters are even checking identity cards of anyone who is coming into the neighbourhood," a resident from the area said.

Onlookers reported thick smoke billowing into the sky in Burri, with protests setting tree trunks and tyres ablaze and blocking roads with rocks.

About 300 people rallied in Al-Mamura, an upmarket area of businessmen and traders, witnesses said.

Riot police in Khartoum and Omdurman responded with tear gas, witnesses said.

'New chapter' 

Hundreds of protesters also gathered in Madani, south-east of the capital, where they were confronted with tear gas, witnesses told AFP by telephone.

"Protesters are burning tyres, tree trunks and blocking roads in some neighbourhoods of Madani," a resident from the town said.

Even as protests continued, Bashir swore in a new premier, vice president and governors for the country's 18 provinces on Sunday.

Former governor of the agricultural state of Jazeera, Mohamed Tahir Eila, was sworn in as the new prime minister at a ceremony in the presidential palace.

"We hope we can offer job opportunities to our youths so that they can achieve their aspirations," Eila told reporters after he was sworn in.

Sudan's defence minister, General Awad Ibnouf, took on the additional role of first vice president, after his predecessor Bakri Hassan Saleh was sacked by Bashir.

Sixteen army officers and two officers from the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) dressed in military uniforms were also sworn in as new governors for the country's 18 provinces.

"Today, a new chapter begins in Sudan's history," Bashir, dressed in a military uniform, said at the ceremony.

"This chapter needs special people like you to lead... in order to guarantee security and stability in the country."

Bashir is expected to announce a new cabinet as he pushes on with sweeping top level changes.

Economic woes 

Protest organisers have vowed to continue with daily rallies, accusing Bashir and his officials of mismanaging the economy.

Deadly clashes between protesters and security forces have left 31 people dead since protests started on December 19, officials say.

Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed including medics and children.

Demonstrations initially erupted in the town of Atbara after a government decision to triple the price of bread, before escalating into protests against Bashir's iron-fisted rule.

Bashir has acknowledged that the majority of the protesters were young men and women who want better economic conditions.

Sudan's financial woes have worsened amid a shortage of foreign currency since South Sudan became independent in 2011, taking with it the bulk of oil earnings.

The resulting shortages in basic goods have fuelled spiralling inflation that has devastated the purchasing power and living standards of ordinary Sudanese, from agricultural labourers to middle-class professionals.