Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, foreground left, gestures as he arrives for an EU Africa Summit in Lisbon, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007. (Photo: AP)
Sudanese opposition and youth movements are calling for a million-man protest on Friday along the lines of last year's Tahrir Square uprising in Egypt.
The idea of the 'million-man demonstration' emerged during Egypt's January 25 Revolution, which ultimately led to the ouster of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power.
In a related development, Sudanese authorities blocked three news websites – Alrakoba, Hurriyat Sudan and Sudanese Online – which were launched by Sudanese journalists based abroad. Several Sudanese newspapers – including Al-Maydan, Al-Jarida, Ray Al-Shaab and Al-Tayar News – were also all recently suspended by government authorities.
Sudanese writer Muwaiya Yassin, meanwhile, has called for the establishment of an anti-regime television channel – shares of which would be floated on the stock market – to allow Sudanese shareholders to take part in independent media free from government control.
Badr Al-Din Ibrahim, media spokesman for Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP), slammed US and British criticisms of the Khartoum government's recent crackdown on anti-regime protests, which have recently spread from the capital to other areas of the country.
The unrest, which began in the form of student protests over planned austerity measures, has grown in recent days into larger and more volatile demonstrations. Sudanese authorities, for their part, have downplayed the protests as the work of "agitators."
Riot police have been deployed to put down the uprising, using teargas and batons against rock-throwing demonstrators. Protesters have also reportedly been arrested, detained and beaten, according to the US State Department.
"The heavy-handed approach adopted by Sudanese security forces is disproportionate and deeply concerning," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
Activists, meanwhile, have sought to use mounting public frustration to build a movement aimed at toppling the government of President Omar Al-Bashir. Soaring inflation has gripped the country since the secession of South Sudan one year ago, which took with it roughly three quarters of the country's total oil production revenues.
University students have historically been at the forefront of opposition movements in Sudan. In 1964, student protests led to a mass uprising that toppled the military dictatorship that was then in place.
The current regime of President Al-Bashir, an army officer who seized power in a 1989 coup, successfully withstood a series of earlier student-led protests in 1994 that had been triggered by rising food prices.