Sudan protesters plan march as Bashir sacks health minister

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks during a meeting with police officials at the headquarters of the "police house" in the capital Khartoum on December 30, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 January 2019

Sudan protesters plan march as Bashir sacks health minister

  • Sudanese pharmaceutical companies have been unable to import some medicines after a years-long foreign currency shortage worsened last year

KHARTOUM: A Sudanese group organizing anti-government protests has called for a march on the presidential palace as President Omar Al-Bashir sacked the health minister Saturday over rising costs of medicines.
Deadly anti-government rallies have rocked cities including Khartoum since December 19, when protests first broke out over a government decision to raise the price of bread.
Authorities say at least 19 people including two security personnel have been killed in clashes during the demonstrations so far, but rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.
“We call on our supporters to gather at four different places in Khartoum and then begin a march on the palace” of the president on Sunday, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association said Saturday in a statement.
The association, which includes teachers, doctors and engineers, has held similar rallies in recent weeks but they have been swifty broken up by riot police.
Security forces were deployed in key squares across the capital on Saturday night.
Late on Saturday, Bashir sacked minister of health Mohamed Abuzaid Mustafa, the official SUNA news agency reported.
He has been replaced by Al-Khier Al-Nour, SUNA said without giving details.
Rising drug prices and shortages have added to the anger of protesters already furious over the cost of other key products.
Sudanese pharmaceutical companies have been unable to import some medicines after a years-long foreign currency shortage worsened last year.
But even as protesters called for a new march on Sunday, Sudan’s education ministry ordered the reopening of schools in Khartoum from Tuesday.
Schools and classes had been suspended “indefinitely” across the capital since December 23, when violence erupted during initial protests.
Schools were also closed in other cities where protests have been held, but it was still unclear whether they would reopen next week.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi offered Sudan his country’s support during a meeting in Cairo with a top aide of his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al-Bashir, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.
“Egypt fully supports the security and stability of Sudan, which is integral to Egypt’s national security,” it quoted El-Sisi as saying.
Sudanese authorities have launched a crackdown on opposition leaders, activists and journalists since protests erupted last month.
The country has been facing a mounting economic crisis over the past year.
The cost of some commodities including medicines has more than doubled and inflation has hit 70 percent.
Food and fuel shortages have been regularly reported across several cities, including Khartoum.


UK summons Iran envoy as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces return to jail

Updated 30 October 2020

UK summons Iran envoy as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces return to jail

  • Husband Richard Ratcliffe: Iran has ordered Nazanin to report to court for a new trial on Monday and then back to jail
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab: Britain has made it clear to Iran “that is entirely unjustified and totally unacceptable and must not happen”

LONDON: Britain on Friday warned Iran against throwing detained woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe back in jail, after hauling in Tehran’s envoy for a dressing-down over her emotive case.
The Foreign Office summoned Ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad on Thursday to hear renewed demands from a senior official for an end to the British-Iranian captive’s “arbitrary detention.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told BBC radio Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in a “horrific position,” after her husband said Iran has ordered her to report to court for a new trial on Monday and then back to jail.
Britain has made it clear to Iran “that is entirely unjustified and totally unacceptable and must not happen,” Raab said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who will turn 42 on Boxing Day, has been on temporary release from Tehran’s Evin prison and under house arrest since earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She has spent more than four years in jail, or under house arrest, since being detained in the Iranian capital in April 2016 while visiting relatives with her young daughter.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organization’s philanthropic arm — denied charges of sedition but was convicted and jailed for five years.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent more than four years in jail, or under house arrest, since being detained in the Iranian capital in April 2016. (AFP)

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe said this week that the Foreign Office’s handling of the case “seems disastrous,” and that “the UK is dancing to Iran’s tune.”
Raab told the BBC: “We’ve made it very clear we want to try to put the relationship between the UK and Iran on a better footing.
“If Nazanin is returned to prison, that will of course put our discussions and the basis of those discussions in a totally different place. It is entirely unacceptable.”
Richard Ratcliffe linked the latest development to the postponement of a hearing that was due to take place on Tuesday in London to address Iran’s longstanding demand for the repayment by Britain of hundreds of millions from an old military equipment order.
“As Nazanin’s husband, I do think that if she’s not home for Christmas, there’s every chance this could run for years,” he said, accusing Iran of “hostage diplomacy.”