Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has said he will not step down after being roundly blamed for the bloody crackdown of protests against runaway inflation.
On New Year Day, Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) rejected calls for al Bashir to step down.
The calls came after several political entities from the ruling coalition joined opposition parties and protesters in demanding for the fall of al Bashir’s regime.
Also on New Year Day, Al Bashir ordered the setting up of a fact-finding committee to investigate violence during anti-government protests.
No fewer than 19 people have been killed in the anti-government protests in which hundreds have been injured.
The London-based rights group, Amnesty International, has put the death toll at 37.
Security forces have tried to justify the killings by claiming that the demonstrations were infiltrated by criminals some of whom burnt down or looted shops.
Al Bashir’s determination to stay on in power does not come as a surprise. What is a surprise is the loss of political support he appears to be bleeding.
Three weeks ago, his office claimed that 33 political parties representing a majority of parliamentarians in the country’s legislature were pleading with him to scrap constitutional term limits and run again for reelection in 2019. That coalition appears now to be falling apart.
Two previous constitutional amendments were needed for al Bashir to qualify to run for and get re-elected president in both 2010 and 2015.
The Sudanese leader has an international arrest warrant against him from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and many view his wish to hang on to power, which he first seized in a coup, as protection from the ICC indictment.
Fuel shortages are rife and bread prices have doubled across the country sparking the protests in November 2018. With inflation running at 70 percent, the provision of a 40 percent subsidy for bread has been rejected by protesters as too little, too late.
The Sudanese pound has nosedived in value as the country faces an acute foreign exchange crisis despite a decision in October 2017 by Washington, DC, to lift economic sanctions against Khartoum.
[Photo of al Bashir courtesy of BBC and of protesters, courtesy African News]