FILE - In this Dec. 25, 2018 handout image provided a Sudanese activist, people chant slogans during a demonstration in Kordofan, Sudan.
FILE - In this Dec. 25, 2018 handout image provided a Sudanese activist, people chant slogans during a demonstration in Kordofan, Sudan.

CAIRO - A Sudanese journalists' network and a number of labor and trade unions issued calls Thursday for a day of peaceful protests against the government.

They say the protests are aimed at drawing attention to what the groups consider an excessive use of force against people who have taken to the streets to condemn a rise in food and fuel prices.

Protesters this week called for the resignation of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who on Thursday accused "large Western states" of provoking the economic crisis which now embroils the country. 

The government says that eight protesters have been killed during clashes between protesters and security forces, while some opposition groups say more than two dozen people have died.

Meanwhile, the head of Sudan's parliament has summoned Interior Minister Ahmed Bilal Othman for questions about the casualties.

Suleiman Idriss, secretary general of the Islamic Party, a component of the governing coalition in Sudan, told journalists that peaceful protests are protected by the constitution and that spilling blood is unacceptable.

Idriss said that he opposes killing and the use of violence and that citizens anywhere in the country have the right to protest in accordance with the constitution and all international human rights declarations. He called on the government to conduct an inquiry into the death of protesters, since the people's blood is sacred and must not be spilled.

However, Youssef Jalal, a spokesman for the journalists' network, told Arab media that journalists are not satisfied.

Jalal said that the journalists' network is calling for a work stoppage and its members will be covering only essential news, along with what he called the repression taking place in the streets (by security forces). He said that parliament's decision to question the interior minister over the use of force is not a convincing move, since most members of parliament belong to the ruling party.

In a speech to graduating military cadets Thursday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir blamed Western nations for causing the current economic crisis that has hit his country.

He said that Arab and Islamic states are subject to both political and economic blackmail by the large nations to force them to submit to their dictates, because they still harbor long-lost dreams of controlling natural resources.

The United States lifted economic sanctions on Sudan in October, but the Sudanese pound has continued to lose much of its value against the dollar, prompting shortages of bread, fuel and currency across the country.

President Bashir came to power in a 1989 coup.  He is wanted on an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for human rights violations in the country's Darfur state.

Lawmakers recently amended the constitution to allow him to run for another term in 2020.