Sudan riot police break up dam protest

2011-12-21 07:44
Khartoum - Sudanese riot police on Tuesday used batons to beat youths shouting anti-regime slogans in support of residents displaced by the giant Merowe dam, an AFP reporter witnessed.

About 100 young demonstrators gathered at Khartoum's crowded main bus station to stage their afternoon protest.

They held a banner proclaiming support for those displaced by the dam and shouted: "People want to change the regime."

Police then forcefully moved in and detained an unknown number of the demonstrators.

Their protest came exactly one month after about 1 000 people displaced by the dam began a sit-in over the government's alleged failure to compensate them with replacement homes as promised.

They are continuing their sit-in at Al-Damer, a town around 300km north of Khartoum.

Completed in 2009 at a cost of more than $2bn, the Chinese-built Merowe dam doubled Sudan's power generation capacity.

But it also displaced 15 000 families, who were ordered to leave their homes three years ago to make way for the dam and the huge reservoir that formed behind it.

Protests by villagers opposed to the project broke out in 2006, leaving three people dead and dozens injured.

Khartoum sits on the confluence of the Blue and White Niles. The government has aggressively sought to tap the power of the river waters, a valuable resource that could help offset the loss of oil revenues when South Sudan separated in July.

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