On sixth day of protests, Sudan’s Bashir warns against incitement

FILE PHOTO: A bonfire is lit along the street during protests against price increases in Atbara, Nile River state in northeastern Sudan December 20, 2018. REUTERS/El tayeb Siddig

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir warned citizens against responding to “attempts to instill frustration” on Monday, in his first public comments since the outbreak of anti-government protests six days earlier.

The official Sudan News Agency said Bashir had met security aides, and quoted him as saying the state was “continuing with economic reforms that provide citizens with a decent life”.

Protesters have clashed with police since last Wednesday over price rises, shortages of basic commodities and a cash crisis. Demonstrations have repeatedly targeted the offices of Bashir’s party and called for an end to his 29-year rule.

Government officials have blamed the unrest on “infiltrators”. Officials and witnesses have recorded at least 12 deaths, though exact casualty figures are hard to ascertain.

Monday saw smaller protests, including two in Jazeera state, where Bashir was due to visit on Tuesday for a three-day trip.

He will travel to the state’s north to open a hospital, avoiding a visit to its capital Madani which was one of the central locations of unrest during a wave of similar anti-government protests in September 2013, when scores of people were killed in the city.

In the capital Khartoum, a protest is expected to take place at around 1800 GMT after a soccer match concludes. Protests the previous day also followed a soccer match.

Security was fortified in Khartoum ahead of the planned protest, a Reuters witness said. Car and pedestrian traffic in the city were notably reduced on Monday, he said.

Reporting by Ali Mirghani and Hesham Hajali; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by Peter Graff

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