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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Sudan closes Khartoum roads amid online calls for protests

Sudanese are calling for protests [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 October, 2020

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Soldiers have been deployed across Khartoum to close off roads amid calls for protests.

Sudanese security forces closed off major thoroughfares in the heart of the capital before dawn on Wednesday following online calls for renewed protests against a worsening economic crisis.

Police manned roadblocks on the main bridges across the Nile as well as on roads leading to army headquarters, the site of a long-running protest camp during the unrest that led to the ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. 

Vehicles carrying armed soldiers deployed across the city, an AFP corespondent reported.

"We apologise to the people of Khartoum State for the impact of closing the city's bridges as a precaution, from midnight Tuesday until Wednesday evening," the state government said. 

The Sudanese Professionals Association, a trade union alliance that spearheaded the protests against Bashir, has called for fresh demonstrations against economic conditions that have continued to deteriorate since his overthrow. 

"Transitional authorities have completed more than a year (in power), and the crises are frighteningly increasing by the day," the SPA said in a Tuesday statement. 

"Living hardship is no longer bearable, and people spend their days gasping after basic needs of bread and fuel," it added, describing the government's performance as "turbulent and weak."

Sudan has embarked on a rocky three-year transition during which civilian politicians have agreed to share power with the generals who removed Bashir in a palace coup.

A chronic shortage of hard currency has led to long queues for staple foods and fuel, and power cuts lasting up to six hours a day. 

The inflation rate hit 212 percent last month, further sapping the purchasing power of ordinary Sudanese. 

The transitional authorities have been pushing to end the country's isolation and lift decades-long US sanctions that have strangled the economy. 

On Monday, President Donald Trump declared his readiness to remove Sudan from a US blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, a move Sudanese officials hailed as a vital step towards securing debt relief and spurring economic recovery.

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