Opposition leader sentenced to one week in prison as Sudan’s protests continue

(KHARTOUM) - Police and security forces on Sunday have used teargas and batons to disperse hundreds of protesters in various areas of Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that demonstrations erupted in the main market at downtown Omdurman as well as a number of neighbourhoods including Al-Abasia and Banat.

Also, security forces have arrested dozens of politicians and activists ahead of a rally that was intending to march to the National Assembly to hand over a memo rejecting the state of emergency.

Since early hours on Sunday, police and security forces cordoned off the headquarters of the National Umma Party (NUP) where the rally was supposed to start.

The same eyewitnesses said dozens of activists and politicians were arrested including the deputy chairman of the NUP Mariam al-Mahdi and her sister Rabah al-Mahdi.

The detainees were presented to emergency court where they were sentenced to varying prison terms and fines.

Mariam al-Mahdi has been sentenced to one week in prison and fined 2000 Sudanese pounds (about $30) and to serve two more weeks if she failed to pay the fine.

Al-Mahdi's sentence is considered the first court ruling against a leading political figure since the imposition of the state of emergency last month.

In a WhatsApp message on Sunday, Mariam pointed to the court ruling, saying she wouldn't pay the fine and will stay in jail for two more weeks.

Following the court ruling, the opposition leader has been transferred to the Women Prison in Omdurman.

On the other hand, her sister Rabah has been fined 500 pounds after admitting before the judge that she ululated in order to stir up the enthusiasm of the protesters.

The rest of the detainees have received varying punishments of imprisonment and fines.

Large protests have been ongoing across Sudanese cities since 19 December. The demonstrations first began over fuel shortages and a hike in food prices but have now morphed into full-fledged protests calling for al-Bashir to step down.

Sudanese continue to organise daily protests including demonstrations, sit-ins and meetings despite the emergency order and the brutal crackdown by the police, security forces and militiamen of the ruling National Congress Party.

Some 31 people were killed across the country according to the Sudanese authorities but activists and rights groups say the death toll is over 50 people.

President Omer al-Bashir on 22 February declared a one-year state of emergency and dissolved the federal and states governments appointing 18 militaries as governors of the states.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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