News / Africa

Khartoum Under Threat from Protests, Observers Say

Sudanese anti-government protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.
Sudanese anti-government protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.
Hannah McNeish
— Over the past week, Sudan has seen its most serious protests in almost three decades.  Demonstrations over rising prices after the government decided to lift fuel subsidies have mutated into riots, and dozens of people have died.  The streets have calmed, but analysts say that this could be a turning point for the ruling party and longtime President Omar al-Bashir.  

The protests started a week ago in one town, but quickly spread to others and the capital, Khartoum, where protesters torched vehicles, gas stations, police buildings and hurled stones at security forces.

The protests are seen as the greatest challenge to Bashir’s rule since he came to power in a 1989 military coup.

Sudanese historian and author Douglas Johnson says Sudan hasn’t seen such protests since two governments were toppled in the 1960s and 1980s.

Johnson says the fact that protests have spread beyond Khartoum is important.

“I don’t know if they’re being coordinated, but that is an indication of a rising sea of discontent.  What you’ve got to have in Sudan for this to be successful is one, you have to have a public that has nothing left to fear - and I think we’re beginning to see that - and two, you’ve got to see a loss of morale in security services.  I don’t know if you’ve seen that yet, but those two combined are what brought down the two previous military governments in ’64 and '85," said Johnson.

In an exclusive interview with VOA, rebel commander Malik Agar, whose forces in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan have allied with rebels in the Darfur region, said the hike in fuel prices was the last straw for a beleaguered people.

“My perception is that these demos are not going to stop.  They are going to go ahead, and I think the people of the Sudan are fed up with the misadministration of the system, they are economically tied and they are even at the stage of economic suffocation.  Whether they go for demo or whether they don’t, they are going to suffer more and more," said Agar.

A Sudanese woman in Khartoum, who requested confidentiality for fear of reprisals, told VOA that the government had closed schools for a month to punish youths, who make up the bulk of protesters.

Witnesses in Khartoum say security forces have also rounded up and detained an estimated 1,000 people, while press advocate Reporters Without Borders has documented a crackdown on media, says the group's Africa spokesperson, Clea Kahn-Sriber.

“The very noticeable thing is that there’s been a very strong push to censor all types media.  So, newspapers have been closed, TV stations have been closed, journalists have been arrested and interrogated, and in all that we can kind of see the fragility of the

Islam Al-Tayeb, a Sudanese analyst for the international Institute for Strategic Studies in Bahrain, says the lack of credible opposition parties offering a political alternative to Bashir could dampen the revolutionary spirit.

She also says that after being ruled by one man for 25 years, many Sudanese people are wary of joining protests, and believe that they won’t receive outside help for a “Sudan spring” by regional or international players that have either abandoned or alienated Khartoum.

But the death toll has shocked many into action.  

“The risk is high, and the mobilization is serious.  And the problem this time also is the crackdown has led to the deaths of many Sudanese and right now many of the demands that people were calling for have changed, from economic to political demands, and calling for the removal of the regime, which many consider [to] have their hands covered in blood," said Al-Tayeb.

Al-Tayeb says that the government would sacrifice President Bashir to maintain control of the country, but only if risks and demands grow significantly, and if more boots take to the streets.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Shosho from: Italy
October 04, 2013 1:39 PM
The regime must go away

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid