Police fire tear gas to break up Sudan water demos

KHARTOUM — Police used tear gas in Khartoum on Friday to break up three separate protests at the lack of running water, witnesses said, two days after a similar demonstration in neighbouring Gezira state.

About 300 people took part in the first demonstration, in a southern suburb of the Sudanese capital called Debra, which grew when people going to the mosque for Friday prayers joined them at about 1:00 pm (1000 GMT), several of the protesters told AFP.

They closed the road, burned tyres and shouted: “We want water!” with a small number of them also calling for regime change, before riot police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters and beat them with batons.

In the nearby suburb of Sahafa, and also in Omdurman, the capital’s twin city just across the Nile, between 200 and 400 people took to the streets also to demonstrate against the lack of water, protestors there said.

Riot police again used tear gas to scatter the crowds.

Khartoum sits on the confluence of the Blue and White Nile, whose levels have has risen in recent months, due to seasonal rainfall upstream.

But the water is muddy and the pipes in many parts of the city have been dry for days.

The water authorities were quoted in the local papers on Thursday blaming the lack of rain in the Khartoum area, which is unusual for this time of year and which they say would clean the river water, for their inability to supply households in the city.

On Wednesday, at least 500 protestors took to the streets of Wad Madani, the capital of Gezira state, to complain about the lack water, insisting that they were not demonstrating for political reasons, according to several witnesses.

But a large number of riot police deployed in the area and again dispersed the protesters with tear gas, the witnesses added.

Activists seeking to emulate events in Tunisia and neighbouring Egypt tried to organise nationwide anti-regime demonstrations in Sudan earlier this year.

The sporadic protests failed to gather momentum, however, partly because of the zero-tolerance policy of the authorities.
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