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Sudan rallies seek end to military rule, economic crisis

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KHARTOUM: Sudanese security forces have fired tear gas to disperse protesters in several cities across the northeast African nation who marched against military rule and a worsening economic situation, witnesses told western news agency.

Hundreds of protesters in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan were also met with tear gas, according to eyewitnesses. “Down with military rule”, protesters chanted in Damazin, a city some 450 kilometres southeast of the capital.

Security forces on Monday fired tear gas at demonstrators attempting to reach the presidential palace.

Regular protests calling for civilian rule have taken place since a military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al Burhan on October 25, with heavy-handed crackdowns leaving 87 dead, according to medics.

On Sunday, the price of a small loaf of bread shot up over 40 percent, from 35 to 50 Sudanese pounds, or from five to eight US cents.

Sudan has been especially vulnerable to fears of global supply shortages in the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. As fuel costs spike globally, the cost of transport has also jumped 50 percent across Sudan.

In Nyala, the state capital of South Darfur in the west, security forces fired a barrage of tear gas canisters to stop crowds.

“No to rising costs,” people shouted, according to resident Abdel Moneim Mohamed. “No to military rule.”

Protesters in Nyala also included residents of the vast camps set up when people were forced from their homes during the conflict that broke out in Darfur in 2003.

“The situation has become intolerable,” said Hamad Bashir from Atbara, a city 280 kilometres northeast of Khartoum, a traditional centre of the country’s railway industry. Bashir said that railway workers have not been paid for two months.

Rail workers began a strike on Sunday, said Hashem Khedr, the head of the Railway Workers’ Union.

One in every three people is dependent on aid in Sudan, according to the United Nations.

The economic crisis deepened when October’s military coup triggered broad international condemnation and punitive measures that included a suspension of $700 million in US aid.

The October coup derailed a fragile power-sharing agreement between the army and civilians that had been painstakingly negotiated after the 2019 ouster of longtime ruler Omar al Bashir.

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