Dozens protest near Khartoum after Friday prayers

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OMDURMAN, Sudan (Reuters) – Dozens of protesters chanted anti-government slogans as they left a major mosque following Friday prayers in Omdurman, near Sudan’s capital, a day after a prominent figure in President Omar al-Bashir’s party called for him to resign.

Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans as they march along the street during anti-government protests in Khartoum, Sudan December 25, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Security forces fired teargas and the crowd quickly dispersed, a Reuters witness said.

The protest was much smaller than other demonstrations seen in Sudan over the past two weeks that have been triggered by price increases and shortages of cash and fuel following months of deteriorating economic conditions.

A group of unions organising the protests has urged people to march AGAIN toward the presidential palace in Khartoum on Sunday.

Al-Shafi’ Ahmad Mohammad, the first secretary-general of Bashir’s National Congress Party, issued a rare call on Thursday for Bashir to step down. In a voice recording circulating on a messaging app, he said that Bashir should resign and form a transitional government “to save the country”.

Mohammad’s call, the first of its kind, came after opposition parties said on Tuesday they wanted Bashir to dissolve the government and form a transitional administration that would set a date for elections.

Their petition also called for the investigation of alleged abuses by security forces during recent demonstrations across Sudan.

Bashir and the head of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service have called for restraint in the response to the protests, which government officials have blamed on unnamed infiltrators.

Friday’s protesters, mainly young men, chanted “peaceful, peaceful” and “fall, fall,” as they called for a change in government.

The protests represent the most persistent opposition Bashir has faced since he took power in an Islamist-backed coup nearly 30 years ago. The demonstrations are more widespread and sustained than bouts of unrest in September 2013 and January 2018.

Security forces have fired live ammunition as well as teargas and stun grenades at protesters, witnesses say. They have also detained some protesters and opposition figures.

Officials have acknowledged 19 deaths during the demonstrations. Amnesty International said last week it had credible reports that 37 protesters had been killed by bullets fired by security forces.

Writing by Lena Masri; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Andrew Heavens

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