Sudan's Bashir Tells Police To Rein In Force Against Protesters

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir speaks to police officials on Sunday

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir speaks to police officials on Sunday

The New York-based group says security forces have used tear gas and live ammunition against protesters who have taken to the streets since December 19.

From Khartoum, Yousra Elbagir reports - and we should warn you there are some images of violence.

Before the clashes erupted, the demonstrators sang the national anthem, chanted "peaceful!" - as if to emphasize their non-violent protest.

Although most protests are against the high cost of living and food prices, some protesters have also adopted the slogan used in the 2011 Arab Spring - "the people want the fall of the regime". In Omdurman, they chanted "freedom, peace and justice".

Earlier Monday, Human Rights Watch urged al-Bashir's government to instruct security forces not to use lethal force against protesters, citing independent groups as saying 40 people have been killed since the protests erupted almost two weeks ago.

For his part, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, condemned the use of "lethal force" against peaceful demonstrations. Scores have been injured and hundreds arrested, it said.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday said the government will not tolerate sabotage or damage to personal or property security.

"We want to maintain security and we want the police to do that by using less force".

An Islamist, he also sought to justify the killing of protesters, quoting from Islam's holy book, the Koran, according to a video clip of his comments.

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"The objective is not to kill the protesters, but.to safeguard the security and stability of citizens", he said.

"With more protests planned, Sudanese authorities should send an unambiguous message to all security forces to respect the rights of protesters and not to use lethal force", he added.

Sudanese authorities say at least 19 people have been killed in street demonstrations that swept several Sudanese states against rising prices and shortages of basic commodities earlier this month.

The 74-year-old leader, who has been president for nearly three decades and is facing increased calls to step down, also offered to boost police officers' salaries and pensions and support their accommodation, education and health care. Protesters numbering in the hundreds or very low thousands gathered in dozen or so venues across the city and fought pitched battles with police for hours before they dispersed after nightfall.

Later on Monday he said he was "confident of overcoming the economic challenges" as he delivered a speech to mark Sudan's 63rd independence day on January 1.

Sudan's economy has stagnated for most of al-Bashir's rule.

A nation of 40 million, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three-quarters of its oil output - its main source of foreign currency - when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

Al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on allegations of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

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