AP NEWS

Sudan lawmakers cancel meeting on constitutional changes

February 17, 2019
FILE - In this June 14, 2015 file photo, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir smiles during a visit to Johannesburg, South Africa. Sudan's sate-run news agency said Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, that a parliamentary committee tasked with amending the constitution to allow al-Bashir to run for another term has abruptly canceled its meeting that was scheduled for Sunday for "emergency reasons." Sudan has been rocked by a wave of protests since December calling on al-Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 military coup, to step down. (AP Photo/Shiraaz Mohamed, File)

CAIRO (AP) — A Sudanese parliamentary committee tasked with amending the constitution to allow President Omar al-Bashir to run for another term abruptly canceled its meeting on Sunday, the sate-run news agency said, as hundreds of protesters in the capital called for an end to the president’s three-decade rule.

SUNA said the meeting was scheduled for Sunday but was postponed for “emergency reasons” and that a new date would be announced later. It did not elaborate.

Sudan’s constitution, amended in 2005, allows the president to run for two five-year terms.

In December, the Sudanese parliament, which is packed with members of al-Bashir’s National Congress party, demanded a constitutional amendment to enable the president to serve an unlimited presidential term. He was elected in 2010 and 2015.

In Khartoum, police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters, according to local activists. The doctor’s union said a protester named Abu Bakr Yussef, 62, died from suffocation after tear gas was fired in the capital’s northern Bahri district.

Online video footage showed protesters in Khartoum chanting: “Freedom, peace, justice” and “Revolution is people’s choice.” It also showed a street vendor being wounded in clashes between protesters and police forces. The activists said the injured vendor was taken to a nearby hospital.

The activists spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. A government spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sunday’s protests, called for by professional and opposition groups, were the latest in a wave of demonstrations that began across much of Sudan on Dec. 19, first against price rises and shortages but soon after began calling for the ouster of al-Bashir. They coincide with worsening economic woes that saw a currency devaluation spiking prices, fuel shortages and a steep rise in the price of bread, a main fare for most Sudanese.

Activists say the death of Yussef, the protester, has raised the protests’ death toll to at least 58 people. The government’s latest tally stands at 30 killed, but its figures have not been updated in days.

Al-Bashir, in power since a 1989 military coup he led, insists that only elections, in which he intends to run, can bring change.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.