Sudan: Police fire tear gas at demonstrators

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir
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KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese police fired tear gas on Friday at hundreds of protesters in Omdurman, across the Nile from Khartoum, witnesses said, in the latest of more than a month of anti-government demonstrations.

Demonstrators frustrated with a worsening economic crisis have been on the streets near-daily since Dec. 19 calling for an end to the 30-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir.

The protesters, who began demonstrating after weekly Muslim prayers, chanted: “Down, that’s it”, which has become the main rallying cry for Bashir’s fall.

They also chanted: “Freedom, peace, justice” and “Revolution is the people’s choice”, witnesses said.

Security forces have at times used live ammunition to disperse protesters. Rights groups say at least 45 people have been killed in more than six weeks of protests. The government puts the death toll at 30, including two security personnel.

The protests in December began in the city of Atbara, where hundreds protested against price rises and torched the local headquarters of Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party. They have since swelled to become the most sustained street opposition Bashir has faced in power.

Striking a defiant tone on Thursday, Bashir told supporters in the provincial capital of Kassala: “Changing the government and changing the president will not be through WhatsApp nor Facebook, but will be through the ballot box.”

By Khalid Abdelaziz

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Yousef Saba, Editing by William Maclean