Sudan’s Bashir Seeks Support Abroad as Protests Heat Up
NAIROBI As protests against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir continue, the embattled leader has made visits to Qatar and Egypt in what analysts say is an effort to get diplomatic support to bolster his government.
Speaking Sunday in Cairo, President Omar al-Bashir said protesters in Sudan are trying to copy the Arab uprising in 2011 that toppled some leaders in the Middle East.
Bashir was visiting Egypt for the second time since the crisis began more than a month ago.
Ahmed Soliman is a researcher with Chatham House. He says Bashir is looking for support in case he starts to lose his grip on power.
Sudan has been reaching out to Russia at the same time to balance those relationships with the West in case it deteriorates at a given stage," he said. "President Bashir has always been pragmatic in his foreign relations, and he continues to do so in terms of trying to maintain a broad base of support for his government at this time in case he loses support from one side.
The protests in Sudan began in December, with demonstrators demanding the government reduce the prices of fuel and other essential commodities.
Sudan's economy has been struggling, and foreign currency has been hard to come by since 2011, when South Sudan broke away and took most of the oil reserves.
Human rights organizations have accused Bashir's security forces of killing and injuring protesters. Amnesty International says at least 40 people have been killed since the protests began. Government figures put the death toll at 29.
Amnesty International Sudan researcher Ahmed Elzobier says the situation will get worse if no political solution is found.
We can imagine the magnitude and the scale of the human right violations at the moment in Sudan," he said. "Our expectation is this will continue because of the government of Sudan they are not willing to give any concession to the protesters or provide any kind of political draws or to resolve this conflict as government."
Sudanese media report the protests are spreading despite mass arrests and a harsh crackdown by security forces.
Bashir has accused the opposition and armed groups of trying to destabilize his country and the region.
Soliman of Chatham House says Sudan is headed toward a major political showdown.
You can look at different examples elsewhere, very close in the region in Ethiopia, to see that these kinds of events can take a long time to unfold," he said. "But what is clear is that at the moment the protesters are very strong in their demands, and the government is also very strong in maintaining its position and it is not going anywhere.
Bashir has ruled Sudan since 1989, making him the fifth longest serving ruler in all of Africa.
Source: Voice of America