Sudan: Crowds rally for Bashir as police tear gas rival protest

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Police tear gas anti-government protesters in Omdurman as President al-Bashir greets hundreds of supporters in Khartoum.

Hundreds of people gathered in Sudan’s capital on Wednesday in a show of support for President Omar al-Bashir’s embattled government after deadly anti-government protests erupted across the country last month. 

The rally backing al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989 when he swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup, came as rival protesters launched new demonstrations in the city of Omdurman.

Hundreds of riot policemen, soldiers and security agents, some carrying machine guns, were deployed around the site of the pro-Bashir rally in the Green Yard, a large open ground in Khartoum, an AFP correspondent reported.

Dressed in a khaki shirt and trousers and waving a stick, a smiling al-Bashir greeted the cheering crowd as men and women, who arrived in buses from early in the morning, whistled and waved flags.

“This gathering sends a message to those who think that Sudan will become like other countries that have been destroyed,” al-Bashir told a cheering crowd.

“We will stop anyone who destroys our properties.”

The rally was the first held in Khartoum in support of the president since protests erupted.

In the initial protests, which broke out in towns and villages before spreading to Khartoum, several buildings of al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party were torched.

Angry demonstrators have taken to the streets since December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread at a time when the country is suffering an acute shortage of foreign currency and inflation of 70 percent. Authorities say at least 19 people, including two security personnel, have been killed during the demonstrations, but Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 40

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