Sudanese protesters gather for a second day outside the military headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 7, 2019. – Sudanese police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters who rallied outside the army headquarters for a second day urging the military to back them in demanding President Omar al-Bashir resign. (Photo by – / AFP)
Agence France-Presse

Sudan has been rocked by nearly four months of regular protests that erupted over a hike in bread prices but grew into a call to end President Omar al-Bashir’s iron-fisted 30-year rule.

Rights groups accuse Sudanese authorities of a heavy-handed crackdown on the rallies since they erupted in December, using live fire on unarmed demonstrators.

Sudanese officials say 38 people have died in protest-related violence since December.

Hundreds of protesters — including opposition leaders, activists and journalists — have been jailed by the feared National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

Here is a timeline.

On December 19 hundreds of Sudanese take to the streets in the central town of Atbara to protest a government decision to triple the price of bread on the heels of a three-week shortage.

Angry protesters torch the headquarters of Bashir’s ruling party in two areas.

AL-MAHDI RETURN

The same day Sudan’s main opposition leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi, a former prime minister driven out in the 1989 coup which brought in Bashir, returns after a year in exile.

Mahdi is also the leader of the opposition National Umma Party and its religious arm, the Al-Ansar sect.

Calling for “freedom, peace, justice”, demonstrators return to the streets on December 20 with some calling for “the fall of the regime”.

A day later fresh demonstrations break out in the capital Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman, after the National Umma Party calls on its members to join the protests.

‘REAL REFORMS’

On December 24, the sixth day of protests, Bashir breaks his silence and vows “real reforms”.

Bashir denounces “traitors, agents and mercenaries” seeking to destabilise the country.

On January 1 a range of 22 political groups call for a “new regime” in Sudan.

Bashir sacks the health minister on January 5 over rising costs of medicine.

Four days later soldiers fire live bullets and tear gas as they enter the hospital in Omdurman in pursuit of protesters, Amnesty International says.

DARFUR DEMOS

On January 13 demonstrations break out for the first time in Sudan’s western war-torn region of Darfur.

“Demonstrations will not change the government,” Bashir tells supporters on January 14 during a visit to Darfur.

Western powers at a January 17 UN Security Council meeting call on Sudan to respect the rights of demonstrators.

The following week the media accreditation of several Sudanese journalists working for foreign outlets is withdrawn.

On February 11 Human Rights Watch releases videos documenting violence by security forces against protesters including live fire, tear gas, beatings, arrests and raids on hospitals.

CRITICS ARRESTED

Ten days later security agents arrest several opposition leaders and activists as hundreds of protesters try to march on the presidential palace.

Bashir declares a nationwide year-long state of emergency on February 22, at the same time dissolving the cabinet and local governments.

Two days later Bashir swears in Mohamed Tahir Eila as his new prime minister as riot police confront hundreds of demonstrators calling on the president to resign.

On March 1 Bashir hands his powers as chief of the ruling National Congress Party to his newly appointed deputy Ahmed Harun.

On April 6 scores of protesters gather for the first time outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, which also houses Bashir’s residence and the defence ministry.

On April 8, as protests continue for a third day in what is now the biggest rally so far, demonstrators call on the army to hold talks on forming a transitional government.

The interior ministry says seven protesters were killed and 2,496 demonstrators were arrested on April 6, raising the official death toll since December to 38.

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