40 killed by bullets in Sudan

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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.”   

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