Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir mocks ‘Facebook protesters’

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has ridiculed his opponents’ use of social media to organise recent protests against his rule.

“Changing the government or presidents cannot be done through WhatsApp or Facebook. It can be done only through elections,” he told his supporters.

He was speaking as fresh demonstrations were held in the capital Khartoum.

The protests started over cuts to bread subsidies in December but have since morphed into anger at Mr Bashir’s rule.

The Sudanese government says 30 people have been killed in clashes since the unrest began. Human rights groups put the death toll at more than 40.

What did President Bashir say?

Mr Bashir used a rally of his supporters in the eastern city of Kassala to mock his political opponents.

He said only elections could bring about a change of government.

“This is our pledge and commitment before the Sudanese people. The decision is your right, the masses of the Sudanese people,” the president said.

The Sudanese authorities have tried to block social media in the country.

But a medic in Khartoum told the BBC earlier this week that people have been bypassing the blockade by using Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which can hide a user’s location.

In Kassala, near the Eritrean frontier, Mr Bashir also said that Sudan was reopening its border with Eritrea after about a year-long closure.

The eastern frontier was shut after Sudan declared a state of emergency in two regions to tackle weapons trafficking.

What’s the latest on the protests?

As Mr Bashir was speaking in Kassala, new rallies broke out in the capital and elsewhere.

Sudanese protesters chant slogans against President Omar al-Bashir in Omdurman. File photo
Image captionProtesters say President Bashir must resign

Riot police fired tear gas at crowds in Khartoum, a witness told the AFP news agency.

Protests were also held in several villages south of the capital.

The demonstrations are being led by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which represents health workers, lawyers, teachers and others.

The protests started over cuts to bread and fuel subsidies, but now demonstrators are calling for the 75-year-old president to resign.

Mr Bashir, who has won elections several times since coming to power in a coup in 1989, has struck a defiant note.

On Wednesday, the Sudanese armed forces – who back the president – warned they would not allow a collapse of the state.



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