Lawmakers in Sudan have approved a 6-month nationwide state of emergency as opposed to one year ordered by President Omar al-Bashir in response to demonstrations against his oppressive rule.
Facing the country’s biggest protests since he came to power 30 years ago, President Bashir declared a state of emergency from February 22. He also called on parliament to postpone constitutional amendments that would allow him to seek another term in a 2020 presidential election. This came after initial crackdown failed to quell the protests that have shaken up his regime for over two months.
“A six-month state of emergency has been approved by a majority,” the Speaker of Parliament, Ibrahim Ahmed Omer said after lawmakers voted on the decree issued by Bashir on Monday.
Sudan’s Parliament, despite being overwhelmingly dominated by lawmakers from President Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), approved the recommendation for reducing the emergency duration after discussions.
According to the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Ahmed Attijani, some lawmakers objected to the state of emergency because of its implications for freedoms, particularly given Sudan is due to hold a presidential election next year.
Deadly protests erupted last December after the government decided to triple the price of bread. The demonstrations were initially targeted at high and expensive prices of living and deterioration of economic conditions and calls for urgent economic reforms.
However, the protests quickly escalated into the political condemnation of the government’s hard policies and demands for change in power against President Bashir’s administration, prompting violent reactions from security forces.
Reports of arbitrary arrests and detentions of protesters have raised concerns in the international community, with the United Nations expressing alarm over violence against protesters.
According to Human Rights Watch, at least 51 people have been killed in protest-related violence so far, including medics and children. While government officials claim over 800 over 800 have been detained.
Protests continue in parts of the country despite the state of emergency and security forces continue to violently crackdown on the people amid arrests and jailing of protesters.
More so, the Sudan Professionals Association (the main protest organizer in the country) has called for civil disobedience slated for tomorrow (Wednesday, March 13). It is the second time such a measure is being implemented, the first holding on March 5 when a nationwide strike was observed.
“SPA and allies have called for a one-day civil disobedience on the 13th of March as the #SudanUprising gathers momentum in its 12th week,” they wrote in a Twitter post.