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Sudan cracks down on supporters of former ruler Omar al-Bashir after protests

Committee issues order for arrest of National Congress Party members following days of unrest and looting
Supporters of Sudan's ousted president Omar al-Bashir rally in front of a court in the capital Khartoum during the former leader's trial on 14 December 2019 (AFP)

A committee in Sudan has issued an order to prosecute members of former ruler Omar al-Bashir's political party, after days of demonstrations across the country.

Supporters of the the National Congress Party (NCP), which ruled Sudan between its foundation in 1998 and 2019, when it was banned following Bashir's overthrow, have been reportedly involved in stirring up unrest in cities across Sudan, with government buildings and vehicles set on fire and property pillaged.

Markets were also looted in several cities as Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok's government has struggled with price hikes and fuel and bread shortages.

On Thursday, the committee tasked with dismantling Bashir's former administration directed state governors to take action through the public prosecutor against "all leaders of the dissolved National Congress Party, and its active cadres and the leaders of its facades".

While the NCP was formally dissolved after the coup, onetime Bashir supporters have led unrest in Khartoum and other cities, and the transitional period has seen reported coup plots and a botched assassination attempt on Hamdok.

The public prosecution also issued an order on Thursday for the arrest of eight men, including well-known Bashir allies suspected to have gone into hiding.

Hamdok on Wednesday swore in a new cabinet and formed a working group of ministers to monitor the aftermath of the protests.

The anti-Bashir committee said it had received information about activities by former NCP members "to organise arson and looting and terrorise unarmed citizens".

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Governors of several states said the protests were distinct from other, peaceful demonstrations held in protest against a worsening economic crisis.

"It was not isolated, nor was it a sudden act or reaction, but rather an arranged and politically planned action by the former regime," said North Darfur Governor Mohamed Hassan al-Arabi.

Since the overthrow of Bashir by a military coup in the wake of popular demonstrations in April 2020, the transitional government has faced numerous challenges in its attempts to stabilise the country while reforming the former ruler's state apparatus.

On Tuesday, demonstrators in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state, hurled stones at police and set several shops on fire in the main market, an AFP correspondent there said.

"No to high prices, no to hunger," they chanted, as police fired tear gas to disperse them. 

Authorities in South Darfur imposed a 12-hour nighttime curfew starting from 6pm.