Security forces forcibly dispersed anti-government demonstrators in Khartoum on Monday, December 31, one day after President Omar al-Bashir said Sudanese police should use less force in response to ongoing protests but also expressed that there would be no tolerance for any threat to the safety and security of the country. According to local reports, police officers used tear gas as demonstrators - demanding the president's resignation - attempted to march to the Presidential Palace; unconfirmed reports indicate that security personnel also used live ammunition. Dozens of people were reportedly arrested; it is currently unclear if Monday's clashes resulted in any casualties.
Earlier on Monday, the US-based group Human Rights Watch issued a statement calling on the Sudanese government to avoid all use of lethal force on protesters and expressing concern over President al-Bashir's comments on Sunday, which they say appeared to justify the use of excessive force. According to the Sudanese government, 19 people have died across the country since protests began on December 19, while independent groups claim the actual number is around 40 fatalities.
Additional demonstrations are probable nationwide on Tuesday, January 1 - Sudan's Independence Day. Heightened security measures and localized transportation disruptions are to be expected around demonstration sites, and further clashes between protesters and security forces are likely.
Anti-government protests broke out on December 19 as hundreds of protesters gathered in major urban centers - notably in Atbara (Nile River state), Al-Qadarif (Al-Qadarif state), Port Sudan (Red Sea state), and Khartoum - initially to demand increased government transparency and the implementation of anti-inflation measures; their demands have since broadened to demand that President al-Bashir, in power since 1989, step down. Curfews have been implemented in at least eight cities in response to the unrest, including in Kosti and Rabak (White Nile state), Al-Qadarif (Al-Qadarif state), Atbara, Al-Damir, and Berber (River Nile state), as well as in Dongola and Karima (Northern state).
Individuals in Sudan are advised to monitor the situation, obey all instructions issued by their home government as well as those of the local authorities (including curfew orders), and avoid all protests due to the risk of violence.
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