Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Omar Al Bashir to visit Egypt as protesters call for more demos

Protests erupted in Sudan last month after a government decision to triple the price of bread

Sudanese demonstrators take part in an anti-government protest in Khartoum. Reuters
Sudanese demonstrators take part in an anti-government protest in Khartoum. Reuters

Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir will travel to Cairo for talks with his Egyptian counterpart, state media reported Saturday, as protesters called for more nationwide demonstrations against his government.

Mr Bashir’s visit to Cairo on Sunday will be his second trip abroad since deadly protests erupted at home on December 19.

As the protests continue, Mr Al Bashir travelled to Qatar and met Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Wednesday.

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“President Omar Al Bashir will travel to Cairo on Sunday for a one day visit,” Sudan’s official news agency Suna reported.

“He will hold bilateral talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and also discuss regional issues that concern the two countries.”

The visit visit was also confirmed by Sudan’s ambassdor to Cairo, Mahmoud Abdel Halim.

Protests erupted in Sudan last month after a government decision to triple the price of bread.

The rallies swiftly mushroomed into nationwide calls for an end to Mr Bashir’s three decades in power, as protesters clashed with security forces.

Officials say 30 people have died in the violence, while rights groups say more than 40 people have been killed, including medics and children.

The Sudanese group that is leading the protest campaign has called for more rallies over the next few days, including night-time demonstrations on Saturday.

Mr Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has remained steadfast in rejecting calls to resign.

While the spark for the first protests was the rise of bread prices, anger has been mounting for years over worsening economic hardships and deteriorating living conditions in Sudan.

That ire has now spilt onto the streets as protesters chant their main slogan calling for “freedom, peace, justice”.

Mr Bashir has blamed the economic woes on the United States.

Washington lifted its trade embargo on Sudan in October 2017 after two decades of bruising economic punishment, but that failed to revive the country’s financial situation.

Experts say cash injections from the Gulf states, led by wealthy Qatar, have helped stave off economic collapse.

There was no announcement, however, of any financial assistance from Qatar for Mr Bashir during his latest visit.

Egypt, which has deep historical ties with Sudan, has called repeatedly for stability in its southern neighbour.

“Egypt fully supports the security and stability of Sudan, which is integral to Egypt’s national security,” Mr Sisi told a top Bashir aide who visited Cairo earlier this month.

Relations between Cairo and Khartoum had deteriorated sharply in 2017 over territorial disputes and accusations from Mr Bashir that Egypt’s intelligence services were supporting opposition forces fighting his troops in the country’s conflict zones like Darfur.

But in recent months the two governments have ironed out their differences, with Sudan lifting a 17-month ban on Egyptian agricultural produce.

Updated: February 23, 2019 10:20 AM

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