Opposition Leader Arrested As Students Protest in Khartoum

Article Summary
Student protests at the University of Khartoum were broken up by riot police wielding batons and tear gas. Al-Nour Ahmad al-Nour writes that Kamal Omar, an opposition figure from the Islamist Popular Congress Party, was among those arrested. Meanwhile, government spokesmen argue that the protests do not have the support of the people.

During clashes on July 8 at the University of Khartoum, the police responded to student demonstrations that were approaching the campus’ main road with batons and tear gas, arresting several protesters. According to the Popular Congress Party (PCP), an Islamist opposition party led by Hassan al-Turabi, the authorities also arrested Kamal Omar, the head of the party’s political bureau.

Omar’s family said the security forces entered their house, arrested him without any explanation and took him to an unknown destination. They also asked him to take a bag with some clothes and personal effects.

Suleiman Hamid, a leading figure within the PCP, said the authorities arrested Omar to prevent him from travelling to Doha and speaking on a TV program. The program, which was scheduled to be broadcast tomorrow (July 10), was meant to highlight the protests that have been taking place in Sudan. He added that this arrest is an attempt to muzzle and silence any anti-government forces.

The Sudanese Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (SODFR) said that the authorities have arrested a large number of activists, politicians and students — more than 2,000 people have been detained since the protests against the austerity plan erupted on June 16.

Against this backdrop, students at the University of Khartoum took to the streets, chanting slogans such as, “freedom, peace and justice,” “the people want to bring down the regime,” and “the people want freedom and bread.” Riot police used tear gas and batons to prevent them from reaching the main road. This led to many cases of suffocation and injuries, along with several arrests.

President Omar al-Bashir has underestimated the potency of the protests in his country. “Some actors have tried to exploit the economic crisis to turn the people against the regime,” he said, adding, ''We have confidence in our people, of whom we are a part … we came not to govern, but to serve the people.”

In a religious ceremony held in the Wad al-Fadni area east of Khartoum, Bashir declared that he would form a national committee to develop a 100% Islamic constitution and set an example for neighboring countries. He went on to say that Sudan has come under siege because of its attachment to Sharia law.

In this regard, the minister of state for presidential affairs, Amine Hassan Omar, refused to consider the protests in his country to be part of the Arab Spring. Instead, he described the opposition parties as “parasitic and opportunistic,” adding that they all only look after their own interests. He said that the people have abandoned these parties in the protests, which, according to him, have never involved more than 400 participants.

Found in: university of khartoum, university, turabi, sudan, student demonstrations, protests, popular congress party, opposition, bashir

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