Sudan president Bashir pledges to reform after deadly protests

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Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir has offered concessions to anti-government protesters who have been demonstrating against escalating prices of basic commodities.

As protests entered their fifth day on Monday, Bashir vowed to “take real reforms to guarantee a decent life for citizens,” in quotes carried by the official SUNA news agency.

The president’s pledge comes after the protest movement spread to around a dozen cities since it began on Wednesday, after the government tripled the price of bread.

For Mohamed Lattif, a political columnist for the Al-Youm Al-Tali newspaper, scarce state resources and the entrenched economic crisis must now result in political reform.

When South Sudan seceded to become the world’s newest country in 2011, Sudan lost three quarters of its oil reserves.

This year, Sudan has grappled with inflation of more than 70 percent and a plunge in the value of the pound against the dollar.

“There is no choice but to look again at the leadership structure,” Lattif said.

What comes after the protests depends on the government, he said.

“If they persist with a security response… we will also see an escalation by the other side,” he said.

Hospital workers and doctors also staged a walkout on Monday morning, according to Mohammed al-Assam, a member of a committee of doctors.

The committee said it would submit an official demand on Tuesday for the “president’s immediate resignation in response to the uprising by the Sudanese people… (and the) formation of a transitional government”.

The walkout comes after a gathering of professionals from various sectors issued a call on Sunday to strike, as protests hit cities, including Omdurman, close to the capital Khartoum, late into the evening.

As the demonstrations continued on Monday, rallies erupted in two cities in Gezira state, south of Khartoum, which Bashir is expected to visit on Tuesday, according to SUNA.

Residents of Manaqil and Rufaa cities told AFP by phone that dozens took to the streets in Manaqil, calling for the fall of Bashir’s regime. In Rufaa, protesters blocked the streets and burned tyres.

Witnesses said police armed with batons dispersed the protests.