CAIRO/KHARTOUM: Unfazed by the growing demonstrations against his rule, embattled Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir on Sunday arrived in Cairo where he was hosted by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
A statement released by Egypt’s presidency did not mention the monthlong protests that have rattled Al-Bashir’s rule, only saying that Egypt supported Sudan’s stability.
Bashir said his country was being destabilized by unidentified "harmful organizations" and blamed the media for exaggerating the size of his problems.
“There is a problem (in Sudan), we are not claiming that there is not. But it’s not of the size or extent raised in some media,” Bashir said in Cairo after meeting El-Sisi.
The protests were “an attempt to clone the so-called Arab Spring in Sudan,” he said, referring to similarities between the slogans and use of social media in uprisings that hit the region in 2010-2011.
Angry crowds of Sudanese protesters have been seen in videos posted online chanting “The people want the downfall of the regime,” a signature slogan of the Arab Spring.
Bashir has blamed the country’s economic woes on the United States.
Washington lifted its trade embargo on Sudan in October 2017 after two decades of bruising economic punishment, but that has failed to fix the country’s financial situation.
Bashir’s trip to neighboring Egypt is his second foreign visit since unrest began on Dec. 19. He has also visited Qatar.
“We do not claim there is no problem, but it is not of the size or dimensions that some of the media portray.”
“This is an attempt to copy the Arab Spring in Sudan, these are the same slogans and appeals and the very wide use of social media sites.”
The Sudanese people are alert and will not allow for any intrusion or attempt to destabilize the security of Sudan, he said.”
In Khartoum, authorities tried to disperse a number of sit-ins taking place in public squares in response to an appeal from a professionals’ association that has led calls for protests.
Riot police also fired tear gas at protesters trying to gather in Al-Thawra district of Omdurman, and two other areas in Khartoum, witnesses said.
Security forces fired tear gas cannisters at protesters gathered in at least four of the sit-ins, while in others demonstrators tried to block side streets leading to the main squares with rocks and other materials.
One of the slogans used by Sudanese protesters — “The people want the fall of the regime” — was made famous by uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab states.
Sudanese security forces have deployed tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition to disperse protests, as well as arresting hundreds of people
Authorities say at least 30 people have died in the unrest while rights groups and local opposition figures say at least 45 have been killed.
El-Sisi, who has been Egypt’s president since 2014, says he is working to restore stability following the turmoil triggered by the country’s uprising eight years ago, overseeing a widespread crackdown on opposition.
He said Bashir’s visit was “the culmination of the numerous efforts we made in the past year to reinforce bilateral relations.”