Sudanese riot police have fired tear gas to disperse a large group of demonstrators holding a sit-in outside the residence of President Omar al-Bashir for a third straight day to keep up pressure on him to step down after almost three decades in power.
Security forces arrived on pickup trucks at the demonstration site in central Khartoum in the early hours on Monday in an attempt to break up the anti-Bashir sit-in outside an army complex, which houses the president’s residence and the Defense Ministry, witnesses said.
“After that, security forces began firing tear gas at protesters,” a witness told AFP on condition of anonymity.
One resident of the area said, “I stepped out on my balcony hearing the sound of the gas canisters and could feel the gas in the air.”
It called on the residents of the capital and nearby areas to join the protest.
A group of soldiers responded to the calls and stepped in to protect the protesters, according to the demonstrators and witnesses.
Witnesses also said Sudan’s army had stationed troops around its headquarters in Khartoum, blocking several roads leading to the complex, the most heavily-guarded one in the country.
Since Saturday, thousands of protesters have been holding a sit-in outside the complex, calling on the military to back their calls for the president’s resignation.
The demonstrators are unhappy with the country’s economic woes, blaming Bashir’s mismanagement for soaring food prices as well as regular shortages of fuel and foreign currency, among other issues.
The protests initially erupted in Sudan on December 19, 2018, in the face of a government decision to triple the price of bread.
The demonstrations quickly turned into a mass movement across the country against the president, who has so far remained defiant.
Calm had briefly returned to the country in recent weeks due to a state of emergency imposed by Bashir until Saturday, when the fresh wave protests began.
Bashir — who took power in a 1989 coup — has accused foreign powers of inciting the unrest, saying that he would only move aside for another army officer or at the ballot box.
The president on Sunday met with his security council, according to the state news agency, SUNA, which said the council had taken steps to maintain peace and security.
According to SUNA, the government is eager to hold talks with all groups to achieve national consensus.