One dead as Sudan protesters rally outside army HQ for first time

2019-04-07 11:11

One Sudanese protester died as thousands of demonstrators marched in Khartoum on Saturday, many reaching the army headquarters for the first time since the deadly protests against President Omar al-Bashir erupted in December.

Chanting "one army, one people", the protesters rallied in the capital's streets following a call by organisers to march on the compound, which also houses Bashir's residence and the defence ministry.

Organisers said earlier this week that demonstrators would gather to demand the army either "take the side of the people or the dictator's".

READ: Protesters turn out in Sudan, largest number in months

The crowds chanted the movement's catchcry "peace, justice, freedom", onlookers said.

"We still haven't achieved our goal, but we have delivered our message to the army and that is: come join us," said protester Amir Omer.

"They were calling on Bashir to step down," another witness added.

'Illegal gatherings'

Fellow protester Adam Yagub, 40, said Bashir had "ruined the country's economy so much that people are dying even due to shortage of medicines".

Police said a protester had died in the capital's twin city of Omdurman.

"There were illegal gatherings in Khartoum and other states," police spokesperson General Hashim Abdelrahim told the official SUNA news agency.

"Police have recorded the death of one person during disturbances in Omdurman."

A committee of doctors that helped organise the protests confirmed that the "martyr" was a medic.

It means the death toll in protest-related violence since December has now risen to 32, according to officials.

Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 51 including children and medics.

Soon after reaching the army compound, organisers called on the protesters to stand firm outside its fortified walls.

"At this historic moment, we ask you to not leave the army headquarters and hold a sit-in in the nearby streets," the organisers said in a statement.

Since the start of the protests, security agents and riot police have cracked down on demonstrators but the army has not intervened.

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