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Sudan says protest campaigners threatening national security

AFP , Thursday 14 Feb 2019
Sudan Protests
Protests in Sudan (Photo: Reuters)
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Sudan on Thursday threatened to take legal action against campaigners spearheading nationwide protests against the government of President Omar al-Bashir, accusing them of threatening national security.

The warning by acting Information Minister Mamun Hassan came a day after some of the leaders of the protest movement vowed to push on with their "uprising" against Bashir's rule of three decades.

"The government will take legal action against those who are calling for violence, threatening national security and pushing the country into danger," he said in a statement.

On Wednesday protest campaigners held their first news conference since deadly protests erupted in December, at the offices of the main opposition National Umma Party.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) that is spearheading the protests and its allies ruled out negotiations with Bashir's government and called on other political groups to join their movement by signing a "Document for Freedom and Change".

The text outlines a post-Bashir plan including rebuilding Sudan's justice system and halting the African country's dire economic decline, the key reason for nationwide demonstrations.

"It is confirmed what we always said that this Freedom and Change group is calling for violence," Hassan said.

The National Umma Party, which has thrown its weight behind the protests, also pledged to push on with the movement that has held nationwide rallies for almost two months.

"We will continue our uprising until this regime is overthrown," said Sara Najdullah, the party's general secretary, at Wednesday's news conference.

Party leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, a former prime minister whose government was the last one to be democratically elected in Sudan before it was toppled by Bashir, last month called for the president to step down.

Protests first erupted on December 19 in the farming town of Atbara after a government decision to triple the price of bread.

But they quickly escalated into near-daily demonstrations across cities and towns that analysts say pose the greatest challenge to Bashir's rule since he took power in a 1989 Islamist backed coup.

Officials say 30 people have died in protest-related violence so far, while Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed.

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