Sudan’s Bashir scoffs at opposition as more demonstrations take place

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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, facing the most persistent protests since he seized power in 1989, on Wednesday dismissed calls for him to step down as security forces fired tear gas to break up a demonstration in the eastern city of al-Qadarif.

Addressing soldiers at a military base near Atbara, northeast of the capital Khartoum, Bashir scoffed at calls by demonstrators for him to hand over power to the military.

“We have no problem because the army does not move to support traitors, but moves to support the homeland and its achievements,” Bashir said, according to excerpts of the speech broadcast by a TV channel affiliated to his ruling party.

Bashir, a former army general, came to power in an Islamist-backed coup and has held on through successive elections that his opponents say were not free or fair.

Protests against price rises and other economic hardship began on Dec. 19. Authorities say 19 people, including two security officials, have been killed, while Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch put the number at double that

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