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Bashir vows to bring peace as demos called in war zones

FILE PHOTO: Bashir

KhartoumSudan | AFP | President Omar al-Bashir vowed Monday to bring peace in the state of South Kordofan where Sudanese forces are fighting rebels, as protesters planned to hold anti-government rallies in the country’s conflict zones.

Deadly protests triggered by a government decision to raise the price of bread have rocked the east African country for weeks.

The demonstrations have spiralled into nationwide rallies against the government of Bashir, who swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.

Officials say 30 people have died in the violence since the protests first erupted on December 19 in the farming town of Atbara, before spreading to Khartoum and other regions.

Rights groups say more than 40 people have been killed.

On Monday, Bashir vowed to work to bring peace in South Kordofan, a region ravaged by a deadly conflict between government forces and rebels since 2011.

“Our top priority is to bring peace to this area,” Bashir, dressed in military uniform, told a crowd of cheering supporters at a televised rally in Kadguli, the capital of South Kordofan.

“We are ready to go to any length to bring peace to this area. We will undertake all efforts that will bring peace to this area.”

In 2011, fighting erupted in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, both bordering South Sudan, eight years after a brutal conflict broke out in the country’s western region of Darfur.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the three conflicts and millions displaced over the years after ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum, accusing it of economic and political marginalisation.

Bashir is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide related to the war in Darfur. He denies the charges.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) leading the protest campaign has called for rallies in the three conflict zones of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan on Monday.

Rallies have also been called in other states and in camps for internally displaced people “to show our people’s rejection of the dictator”, the SPA said in a statement on Sunday.

For years, anger has been mounting across Sudan over growing economic hardships and deteriorating living conditions.

That ire has now spilt onto the streets, with protesters chanting their main slogan: “freedom, peace, justice!”

Bashir has remained steadfast in rejecting calls to resign.

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