Sudanese vow to keep protesting as president digs in

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By Associated Press

Three months after Sudanese protesters rose up against President Omar al-Bashir, the longtime autocrat has bound himself more tightly to the military and refuses to bow to their demands.

The wily 74-year-old has remained in power through three decades of war and sanctions, the secession of Sudan’s oil-rich south in 2011 and an international arrest warrant for genocide and war crimes linked to the Darfur conflict.

But since December he has faced the biggest protests of his long rule, with political parties and unions demanding his ouster and demonstrators chanting slogans from the 2011 Arab Spring.

A look at where things stand, three months on.

Demonstrators are still taking to the streets nearly every day despite a heavy crackdown by security forces.

The largest protests are being held in the capital, Khartoum, and nearby Omdurman, with smaller ones breaking out elsewhere.

Activists said in early February that 57 people had been killed, while the government put the toll at 31, including police.

Neither has updated those figures since then, even as clashes have regularly erupted, with police dispersing protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition and batons. Hundreds of people have been arrested and are still behind bars.

The umbrella group of independent professional unions that has been spearheading the protests is sticking to its demands that al-Bashir’s administration be replaced with an interim government that would prepare the country for new elections.

Sarah Abdel-Jaleel, a spokesperson for the group, said they call for a “total change of the regime to meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people”.

“There is no room for compromises with this regime. History tells us that dialogue with the regime was not fruitful,” she said. “We will continue our peaceful resistance.”