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As angry protests pile pressure on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to step
down, key powers are standing by his government to ensure stability in a
strife-torn region, analysts say.
Demonstrations that erupted in the provinces last month after the government
tripled the price of bread have escalated into nationwide protests that appear
to pose the biggest challenge to Bashir since he took power in a coup in 1989.
On Friday, Sudan’s National Human Rights Commission, the country’s top
governmental human rights body, condemned the killing “by bullets” of
protesters during the ongoing wave of demonstrations across the country,
calling on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
These allies are against any kind of successful uprising. They feel that if
it happens, then they will be next
While Sudanese officials say 22 people, including two security officials,
have died since the protests broke out last month, Amnesty International said
more than 40 people have been killed in more than 380 protests across the
country since 19 December.
Despite the increasing death toll, outside players ranging from Gulf rivals
Qatar and Saudi Arabia to major powers China, Russia and the United States all
see an interest in the 75-year-old staying at the helm.
“All camps in the region are at each other’s throat, but somehow they
agree on Bashir,” Abdel Wahab al-Affendi, an author and an academic at the
Doha Institute for Graduate Studies told AFP.
“They seem to favour continuity. They believe that any other
alternative might not be favourable to them and to the region.”
Egypt, which has deep historical ties with Sudan, has called repeatedly for
stability in its southern neighbour, with its commanding position on the Nile
on whose waters they both depend.
“Egypt fully supports the security and stability of Sudan, which is
integral to Egypt’s national security,” President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
told a top Bashir aide who visited Cairo last week.
“There has been evidence of tangible support to Bashir… be it from
Egypt, Saudi or Qatar,” said Affendi.
“These allies are against any kind of successful uprising. They feel
that if it happens, then they will be next,” he said, adding that the Arab
Spring has not been forgotten.
Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, called Bashir just days
after the protests erupted to offer his support.
During his long years in power, Bashir has built up relations with all of
the region’s bickering diplomatic players, through a string of sometimes
spectacular foreign policy twists.
“For countries like China and Russia, Sudan is an entry gate to
Africa,” the foreign diplomat said.
“Be it them or the West, nobody wants Sudan to crumble.”