Thousands of Sudanese protesters clashed with security forces outside President Omar al-Bashir’s residence in central Khartoum on Saturday in what appeared to be the biggest demonstration in months of protests against his 30-year rule, witnesses said to Reuters.
On Sunday, thousands of protesters still remained, holding a sit-in outside Bashir’s residence, having camped there overnight.
Sudan has seen months of mostly small but sustained protests against Bashir’s rule in which dozens of demonstrators have been killed. Security forces have used tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition to disperse protests, witnesses have said.
Across the River Nile in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, which also saw protests into the evening, one civilian died from injuries sustained during “rioting” and other civilians and police officers were wounded, state news agency SUNA said, citing police reports.
The victim was a laboratory doctor, according to a statement from an opposition doctors’ committee. Medical staff have played a prominent role in the protests, in which dozens of people have been killed over the past three-and-a-half months.
Security forces fired tear gas at protesters in Omdurman and at stone-throwing demonstrators near Bashir’s residence, who had responded to a call by activists trying to increase pressure on Bashir to step down.
They waved Sudanese flags and chanted slogans demanding “freedom, peace and justice” as they gathered outside the gates of the compound, guarded by soldiers, that also houses the defence ministry, army command and security headquarters.
By the evening, the clashes subsided as security forces pulled back, allowing the thousands still gathered to remain outside the compound. Witnesses said young demonstrators sang nationalist songs and danced for joy. Some said they would stay until Bashir stepped down.
Information Minister Hassan Ismail, who also serves as the government spokesman, praised security forces for the way they handled the protests and said the government remained committed to dialogue to resolve the crisis.
“The approach followed by government apparatus was met with satisfaction from citizens,” Ismail said in a statement. “Sudanese blood is the most precious thing we need to preserve”.
Bashir has refused to step down, saying his opponents need to seek power through the ballot box.
“Today, we won and we are confident that the regime will fall,” said Mohamed Saleh, a 63-year-old university professor who estimated the crowd to be at more than 100,000 people.
An independent estimate for the number of protesters was not immediately available. But witnesses said the protest appeared to be larger than previous ones.
“There are crowds as far as the eye can see,” one witness told Reuters.