Sudanese Police Fire Tear Gas at Protesters

Police in Sudan's capital fired tear gas Monday at demonstrators who had planned to march to the presidential palace to call for a change in President Omar al-Bashir's government.

Witnesses say demonstrators gathered in groups in downtown Khartoum, but were quickly confronted by security forces and unable to march to the palace of President Omar al-Bashir. Some in the crowd chanted, "The people want the fall of the regime," the slogan used in the 2011 Arab Spring.

Witnesses say demonstrators gathered in downtown Khartoum but were quickly confronted by security forces and were unable to march to the palace. Some in the crowd chanted, "The people want the fall of the regime," the main slogan used in the 2011 Arab Spring protests.

Most shops in the area were closed ahead of the planned march, which was organized by professional groups, including lawyers, doctors and teachers.

Witnesses say police arrested dozens of people.

The anti-government demonstrations are in their second week, having begun as a protest against a sharp increase in the price of bread, a staple food in the country. The demonstrations have been forcibly dispersed by Sudanese security forces.

Sudan's government said 19 people have been killed, including two security personnel, since the protests broke out the northeastern city of Atbara on Dec. 19.

Human rights group Amnesty International said 37 people have been killed in the protests.

Sudan's government said more than 200 protesters and nearly 190 members of the security forces have been wounded.

Authorities have closed schools and declared curfews and states of emergency in several regions since the protests began.

Protesters have repeatedly targeted and burned the offices of Bashir's party and called for an end to his 29-year rule. Bashir came to power in a 1989 military coup.

Bashir spoke on national television Monday to commemorate the country's Independence Day on Jan. 1. He acknowledged the economic troubles the country is facing, but did not explicitly mention the protests.

"Our country is going through difficult economic circumstances we are confident that we are close to overcoming this difficult and temporary period," he said.

Prices for food in Sudan have climbed sharply in recent months, with inflation topping 60 percent. This comes after the government cut subsidies earlier in 2018.

Sudan's economy deteriorated after South Sudan became independent, depriving Khartoum of much of its oil revenue. Sudan is facing a foreign exchange crisis and soaring inflation, despite the United States lifting a trade embargo in October 2017.

Source: Voice of America