Bashir announces a state of emergency for a year

File Reuters

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, facing the biggest popular protests since he came to power 30 years ago, announced a one-year state of emergency on Friday and called on parliament to postpone constitutional amendments that would have enabled him to seek a new presidential term in 2020.

Bashir also said in a televised speech the solution of the central government and state governments.

Bashir said the new government should take firm economic action, adding that he would entrust the task to a qualified team.

He also encouraged the opposition to move forward and participate in a dialogue calling for “opposition forces that are still outside the path of national reconciliation and its document to move forward and engage in consultation on the issues of the present and the future through a mechanism of dialogue agreed upon.”

In a subsequent statement, al-Bashir formed a government to run a business that includes a senior official from each ministry but kept defense, foreign affairs and justice ministers in office.

Anti-government protests broke out on December 19 due to price increases and lack of cash but quickly turned into protests against Bashir’s rule.

After Bashir’s speech, angry protesters in Omdurman shouted “freedom” and set fire to tires while others closed a main road, a Reuters witness said. Police fired tear gas and chased protesters through narrow streets.

One of the main opposition groups, called the National Consensus Alliance, said a response to Bashir’s declaration of a state of emergency must be the organization of further protests.

In a statement, the coalition called for “to continue to stand out, day and night, in cities, neighborhoods and fields until the fall of the regime and the establishment of a transitional authority on its ruins.”

Two weeks before the protests broke out, a majority of MPs backed a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow Bashir to seek a new mandate. But the parliamentary committee charged with amending the constitution said on Saturday it would indefinitely postpone a meeting on drafting the amendments.

Before Bashir’s speech, witnesses said security forces fired tear gas to disperse at least 200 protesters in Khartoum. The gathering of Sudanese professionals, the main organizer of the protests, called for more protests.

Bashir, a former army officer, came to power in 1989 after a military coup. He won the elections in 2010 and 2015 after amendments to the constitution following a peace deal with the southern rebels, who then split into the southern state of Sudan.

Activists say about 60 people have been killed in the protests, while official figures have killed 32 people, including three security men.

Security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators and arrested people, including members of an opposition party, activists and journalists.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in the Darfur region but denies the charges against him and is pushing for Sudan to be removed from the list of countries Washington considers a sponsor of terrorism.

Economists say the inclusion of the list has prevented the country from receiving financial aid or an inflow of investment that was expected after Washington’s decision to lift sanctions on Sudan in 2017.

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