Omar al-Bashir’s visit to Egypt is his second trip abroad since the demonstrations erupted in Sudan last month against worsening economic hardships.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Picture: AFP
CAIRO – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday accused the media of exaggerating the size of the problem he is facing at home, where he has faced weeks of protests against his rule.His remarks came during a news conference in Cairo following a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.Bashir’s visit to Egypt is his second trip abroad since the demonstrations erupted in Sudan last month against worsening economic hardships before mushrooming into calls for an end to his three decades in power.”There is a problem (in Sudan), we are not claiming that there is not. But it’s not of the size or extent raised in some media,” said Bashir.The protests were “an attempt to clone the so-called Arab Spring in Sudan”, he said, referring to similarities between slogans and use of social media in uprisings that hit the region in 2010-2011.Angry crowds of Sudanese protesters have been seen in videos posted online chanting “The people want the downfall of the regime,” a signature slogan of the Arab Spring.Meanwhile, people flocked to the streets of Khartoum and Omdurman on Sunday to hold sit-ins in several squares, responding to a call by the Sudanese Professionals Association which is leading the protest campaign.Witnesses, however, say a massive deployment of riot police and security agents prevented them from gathering at several locations.The SPA, an umbrella group of doctors, teachers and engineers, has also called for daily simultaneous demonstrations nationwide until Wednesday.Sudan has been rocked by protests since December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread.The rallies swiftly swelled into nationwide calls for an end to Bashir’s three decades in power, as protesters clashed with security forces.Officials say 30 people have died in the violence, while rights groups say more than 40 people have been killed including medics and children.Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry voiced support for Sudan’s embattled government during a visit to Khartoum in December.”Egypt is confident that Sudan will overcome the present situation,” Shoukry told reporters at the time, after talks with Bashir.”Egypt is always ready to support Sudan,” he said.Last week, Bashir visited Qatar and met with the ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani who backed the “unity and stability” of Sudan.