Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Saturday named a new prime minister as he pressed on with a shake-up at the top, even as protest leaders dismissed his move to impose a state of emergency to quell nationwide demonstrations.
Al-Bashir’s three-decade rule has been rocked by two months of protests that a deadly crackdown has failed to suppress. On Friday, he imposed a nationwide state of emergency and dissolved the federal and provincial governments.
In a televised speech to the nation, the veteran leader pledged to form a government of technocrats to address Sudan’s chronic economic woes, which have been the driving force behind the protests.
On Saturday, he sacked long-time ally and vice president Bakri Hassan Saleh, replacing him with the Sudanese minister of defense, General Awad Ibnouf.
In a separate decree, he appointed Mohamed Tahir Ela, former governor of Jazeera State, as prime minister.
However, protest organizers and their supporters in the political opposition dismissed the reshuffles. They said the state of emergency showed that al-Bashir’s rule was weakened and only its overthrow would now satisfy the protesters.
“Imposing a state of emergency shows the fear within the regime,” the Alliance for Freedom and Change said. “We will continue with our people to take to the streets across all towns and villages until our demand has been achieved.”
The National Umma Party, whose leader Sadiq al-Mahdi was Sudanese prime minister when al-Bashir seized power in a coup in 1989, said the protests against his successor’s iron-fisted rule would carry on until he quits.
“Dissolving the government and imposing a state of emergency is nothing but a repetition of this regime’s failures,” it said. “Nothing will satisfy the people who are taking to the streets except the overthrow of this regime.”
Late on Saturday, crowds of protesters took to the streets in Omdurman, the capital’s twin city, and in a district of Khartoum, witnesses said.
Demonstrators chanted their rallying cry of “freedom, peace, justice,” but were quickly confronted by riot police who fired tear gas to disperse them, witnesses said.
Analysts said the state of emergency was an act of desperation in the face of public anger.
“The declaration of emergency powers only makes it less likely that the economy can be revived,” said Eric Reeves, a senior fellow at Harvard University, who has tracked Sudan’s politics and economy for two decades. “The regime has never understood economics ... that’s why they are in the mess they are.”
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
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