Protests Resurge in Khartoum, Moscow Denies Reports on Russian Mercenaries

Wednesday, 16 January, 2019 - 12:30
Khartoum, London - Mustafa Seri, Asharq Al-Awsat

The Sudanese capital witnessed an unusually calm day on Tuesday before evening demonstrations broke out in two densely populated areas of the capital, in response to a call by the Gathering of Sudanese Professionals.

Witnesses said that hundreds of protesters went out in the suburb of Kalakala south of Khartoum, chanting slogans and demanding the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir and his government.

Police dispersed the protesters by firing tear gas, rubber bullets and live bullets into the air. Witnesses reported that large numbers of demonstrators had been detained, but there was no information on injuries.
Videos of the demonstration were widely circulated on social media.

In parallel, another demonstration was organized in the suburb of Sabirin, north of Omdurman, around 50 km away from Kalakala.

The Gathering of Sudanese Professionals has set up a schedule of protests that will continue throughout the week, describing the moves as a prelude to an all-out civil disobedience that will paralyze the government and speed up its withdrawal.

On a different note, the Russian embassy in Khartoum denied information published by The Times newspaper about the involvement of Russian mercenaries in suppressing protests.

“We declare with all responsibility that Russian experts from non-government structures do not participate in suppressing protests in Sudan, as some unscrupulous Western media claim,” the embassy's spokesman, Vladimir Tomsky, told Sputnik news agency.

“The media reports in the UK’s Times and similar outlets on Russian mercenaries are outright fakes seeking to demonize our country and its foreign policies,” he added.

A report published in the British The Times newspaper last week said that Russian-speaking mercenaries were spotted in the Sudanese capital Khartoum which has raised questions about the Kremlin’s intention to move to support the regime of al-Bashir, in the wake of angry public protests that erupted last month.

The report added that sources in the Sudanese opposition reported that mercenaries from Russia’s PMC Wagner were conducting strategic and practical training for local security and intelligence services.

Meanwhile, al-Bashir decried the decision of rebel movements in Darfur to negotiate with his government because of the popular protests.

“The recent crisis in the country has prompted some movements to declare a boycott of negotiations with the government,” al-Bashir said, addressing representatives of the political forces in South Darfur.

“They said that there is no need to agree on peace with the government because it will fall... We will not wait for them and we will seek to achieve peace,” he added.

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