Sudan protests: Police fire tear gas at football fans

Africa


Police in Sudan have fired tear gas at football fans demanding an end to President Omar al-Bashir’s rule as protests spread across the country.

demonstration in Atbara on 20 Dec
Image captionThe demonstrations have been under way for five days

Police in Sudan have fired tear gas at football fans demanding an end to President Omar al-Bashir’s rule as protests spread across the country.

Hundreds of demonstrators blocked a road near a football stadium in the capital, Khartoum, on Sunday before clashing with riot police.

Opposition figures say 22 protesters have been killed since Wednesday, but officials say the figure is much lower.

The protests erupted after bread and fuel price rises were announced.

But they have escalated into calls for an end to Mr Bashir’s 29-year rule.

Over the past year, the cost of some goods has more than doubled, while overall inflation has risen to nearly 70%, the value of the Sudanese pound has fallen sharply and shortages have been reported in cities including Khartoum.

Doctors embarked on a strike on Monday to increase pressure on Mr Bashir, who took power in a coup in 1989, the Associated Press news agency reports.

What is the latest?

Sunday’s clashes happened as crowds of people spilled out of a football match in Khartoum.

They blocked roads and chanted anti-government slogans before riot police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse them.ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier, footage on social media appeared to show continuing protests in a number of areas.

The Central Sudanese Committee of Doctors said its members had seen protesters in hospitals with gunshot wounds and said there had been a number of deaths and injuries.

Twitter post by @Shaimaakhalil: “The people want the downfall of the regime” chants I’ve heard so many times covering the #ArabSpring...They now sound on the streets of Sudan. Video via Amr Khalifa ...

On Saturday the authorities arrested 14 leaders of the National Consensus Forces, an opposition coalition, including the grouping’s 85-year-old leader Farouk Abu Issa, a spokesman said.

“We demand their immediate release, and their arrest is an attempt by the regime to stop the street movements,” spokesman Sadiq Youssef said.

What is the opposition saying?

On Saturday Sadiq al-Mahdi, leader of the main opposition Umma party, condemned “armed repression” and said the protests were fuelled by the “deteriorating situation” in the country.

He also called for Mr Bashir’s government to agree a peaceful transfer of power or face a confrontation with the Sudanese people.

It will be a losing confrontation for the regime, as it will increase its failures and closes its horizons,” the Paris-based Sudan Tribune website quoted him as saying.

Sadiq al-Mahdi in Omdurman
Mr Mahdi said 22 people had been killed so far

Mr Mahdi – who was was prime minister from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1986 to 1989 – returned from almost a year in exile on Wednesday.

His government was the last to be democratically elected in the country and was toppled in the coup launched by Mr Bashir, who has since been accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western region of Darfur by the International Criminal Court.

How did the protests begin?

They started in the eastern town of Atbara, where demonstrators burned the offices of Mr Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP).

Witnesses said that in some areas the military was not intervening and even appeared to be siding with the demonstrators.

But in a statement on Sunday the military pledged loyalty to Mr Bashir and said it would safeguard the “nation’s security, safety along with its blood, honour and assets”.

A presidential adviser, Faisal Hassan Ibrahim, said the protests were being directed by “organised entities”, without giving further details.

Omar al-Bashir (R) seen visiting President Assad in Syria in December 2018
Image captionMr Bashir – seen here visiting Syria’s President Assad earlier this month – has said he will step down in 2020

Demonstrations spread to Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman as well as other areas.

On Saturday AFP quoted witnesses in Wad Madani, south-east of Khartoum, as saying police used tear gas and beat protesters calling for Mr Bashir to step down.

In El Rahad, south-west of Khartoum, the NCP office and other administrative offices were set ablaze and protesters chanting “no to hunger” were tear-gassed, another witness said.

Why is Sudan’s economy in trouble?

Mr Bashir was accused of sponsoring terrorism by the US in the 1990s and Sudan was placed under a trade embargo.

In 2011, South Sudan seceded from Sudan, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s oil resources. That followed a civil war that claimed the lives of 1.5 million people.

Meanwhile, the conflict in Darfur drove about two million people from their homes and killed more than 200,000.

US sanctions were lifted in 2017 but there has been little improvement in the country’s economy since.

Source: BBC Africa News

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Armenian police arrest more amid ongoing protests — © blogfactory

international News, News

Police in Armenia have arrested scores of opposition supporters amid ongoing protests and sit-ins in the capital, Yerevan, against the parliament’s election of former President Serzh Sargsyan as prime minister. Hundreds of opposition supporters took to the streets of Yerevan, waving national flags and carrying placards reading, “Sarkisian is a dictator.” Meanwhile, some demonstrators tried […]

 

Hundreds of opposition supporters took to the streets of Yerevan, waving national flags and carrying placards reading, “Sarkisian is a dictator.”

Meanwhile, some demonstrators tried to block roads in response to repeated calls by the leader of the protests, opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan, to paralyze traffic.

According to police, dozens of people were arrested.

There is an ongoing campaign of “civil disobedience” meant to show public opposition to Sargsyan’s efforts to cling to power in a new parliamentary system of government. The former military officer ruled Armenia under a presidential system for 10 years.

The peak of the protests was on Tuesday, when some 40,000 people demonstrated in the capital after the parliament elected Sargsyan as the new prime minister. Under controversial amendments to the constitution passed in 2015, governing powers will be transferred from the presidency to the premier.

The spokesman for Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party said the newly elected premier would not quit.

“We respect citizens’ right to freedom of assembly but we rule out the possibility of the prime minister resigning,” Eduard Sharmazanov told reporters late Thursday.

Armenian opposition supporters demonstrate during a rally in central Yerevan on April 20, 2018 against the election of former President Serzh Sarkisian’s as prime minister. (Photo by AFP)

Human Rights Watch has denounced the “arbitrary arrests” of protesters.

“One should not underestimate the challenges Armenia’s police are facing in maintaining law and order, but the ongoing protests are no justification to arbitrarily detain people,” the HRW said in a statement.

Armenia’s new President Armen Sarkisian was sworn in last week but he has much less power under the new governance system.

Sargsyan had a relatively difficult time ruling Armenia over the past 10 years due to economic hardships hampering his government’s efforts to improve welfare for Armenia’s 2.9 million people as well as renewed military clashes with Azerbaijan, an ally of the West in the South Caucasus, over the thorny issue of Karabakh.

Sargsyan has faced similar protests in the past. Some 10 people died and hundreds were injured in clashes that erupted after he was elected president in 2008.

 

via Armenian police arrest more amid ongoing protests — © blogfactory

Armenia: Group of soldiers joins anti-government protests — “It’s a peaceful velvet revolution.” — Peace and Freedom

News

YEREVAN (Reuters) – A group of Armenian soldiers joined an illegal anti-government protest in the capital Yerevan on Monday, the Armenian Defense Ministry said, promising they would be harshly punished according to the law. Images of hundreds of men wearing military uniforms marching with protesters had earlier appeared on a live stream of the demonstrations […]

 

YEREVAN (Reuters) – A group of Armenian soldiers joined an illegal anti-government protest in the capital Yerevan on Monday, the Armenian Defense Ministry said, promising they would be harshly punished according to the law.

Images of hundreds of men wearing military uniforms marching with protesters had earlier appeared on a live stream of the demonstrations being broadcast on the Internet.

Reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Maria Kiselyova

See also:

Armenian Military Vows to Punish Soldiers Who Take Part in Protests (PHOTOS)

https://sputniknews.com/world/201804231063817158-armenia-military-uniform-protests/

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Armenia’s political turmoil deepened on Sunday with the detention of anti-government protest leader Nikol Pashinyan, shortly after Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian stormed out of talks on the tenth day of mass rallies against his rule.

Pashinyan and two other opposition politicians “were detained as they were committing socially dangerous acts”, the prosecutor general’s office said in a statement.

Armenian police earlier denied opposition MP Sasun Mikaelyan’s report that Pashinyan had been arrested and his whereabouts are unknown.

As a lawmaker, he is protected by parliamentary immunity and cannot be arrested without the approval of fellow MPs.

It came hours after Sarkisian stormed out of talks with Pashinyan on Sunday morning, accusing him of “blackmail”.

The tense televised meeting in the capital Yerevan between the premier and Pashinyan lasted only a couple of minutes before the premier cut it short.

Opposition supporters denounce Serzh Sarkisian’s efforts to remain in power as prime minister after a decade serving as president.

“I came here to discuss your resignation,” Pashinyan, the leader of the opposition Civil Contract party, had told the prime minister in front of the cameras.

AFP / Vano SHLAMOV
Sarkisian walked out of televised talks with Pashinyan, accusing the opposition of blackmail, as journalists and opposition supporters crowded outside the venue

“This is not a dialogue, this is blackmail, I only can advise you to return to a legal framework… Otherwise you will bear the responsibility” for the consequences, replied Sarkisian, a former military officer.

“You don’t understand the situation in Armenia. The power is now in people’s hands,” Pashinyan hit back.

Sarkisian said the Civil Contract party “can’t speak on behalf of the people”, having scored only eight percent in a recent parliamentary election, during the brief talks.

– Hundreds detained –

Pashinyan then vowed to “step up pressure” on Sarkisian to force him to resign and called on police officers to “lay down arms and join in the protests”.

Bu instead security forces intervened using stun grenades and began dispersing the crowd in Yerevan’s suburban Erebuni district.

Hundreds of people were detained at protest rallies held across Yerevan during the day, police said in a statement, and seven protesters have sought medical help, according to Armenia’s health ministry.

Armenia’s interior ministry said it took the decision to “disperse demonstrators, including those assembled in Yerevan’s Republic Square.”

“In order to perform these duties, police are entitled to carry out arrests and use force. We urge protesters to comply with these and other lawful demands of policemen,” the statement said.

But tens of thousands of protesters defied the police warning and in the evening filled central Yerevan’s Republic Square, an AFP journalist at the scene reported.

“By beating up people, the authorities simply can’t change the situation in their favour. Too many people don’t trust Sarkisian. The genie is out of the bottle,” a 32-year-old protester, Sona Petrosyan, told AFP at the rally.

Another young protester who didn’t give his name said: “We will gather here every day and hold peaceful rallies until Serzh Sarkisian resigns.”

The US embassy in Yerevan urged “the government to show restraint to allow for peaceful protest and… those exercising their freedom of assembly to do so responsibly, to avoid violence, and to prevent an escalation of tensions”.

“A peaceful resolution requires meaningful political dialogue in good faith,” the embassy said in a statement.

The EU delegation to Armenia issued a statement expressing “concern” over the rapidly unfolding crisis.

AFP / Vano SHLAMOVTalks between Sarkisian and Pashinyan lasted only a couple of minutes before the premier stormed out, accusing the opposition of ‘blackmail’

“The European Union reiterates that it is crucial that all parties show restraint and responsibility and urgently seek a negotiated solution,” the statement said.

Opposition supporters have criticised the 63-year-old leader over poverty, corruption and the influence of powerful oligarchs.

Pashinyan had earlier announced the “start of a peaceful velvet revolution” in the landlocked South Caucasus nation of 2.9 million people.

He called for a nationwide campaign of “civil disobedience”, urging civil servants “to stop obeying Sarkisian”.

Under a new parliamentary system of government, lawmakers elected Sarkisian as prime minister last week.

Constitutional amendments approved in 2015 have transferred power from the presidency to the premiership.

After Sarkisian was first elected in 2008, 10 people died and hundreds were injured in post-election clashes between police and supporters of the defeated opposition candidate.

https://www.afp.com/en/news/826/armenia-opposition-leader-detained-after-failed-talks-doc-1482gs4

Armenia: Group of soldiers joins anti-government protests — “It’s a peaceful velvet revolution.” — Peace and Freedom