KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Thousands of Sudanese protesters took to the streets of the capital Khartoum late Sunday, chanting "freedom" and renewing calls for their longtime autocratic president to resign after dozens of protesters were killed in a week of demonstrations sparked by austerity measures.
The government, which has imposed a media blackout, moved to appease the rancor with cash, saying it would distribute cash to half a million families to offset higher fuel and food prices in a country where nearly half the population lives below the poverty line.
The street demonstrations, which began after subsides were lifted last week, have been the most widespread in Sudan since Omar al-Bashir seized power 24 years ago.
Waving pictures of slain protesters, thousands held a Sunday-night memorial for Salah al-Sanhouri, a demonstrator shot Friday during an earlier protest in Burri, an old Khartoum district.
Women called for the "downfall of the regime" and chanted "freedom, peace and justice, revolution is the choice of people."
Residents cheered on the marchers from rooftops while nearby security forces were stationed in pick-up trucks carrying mounted machine guns near the spot where al-Sanhouri was shot.
"The protests will continue and will reach a general strike. This is our aim," said Ghazi al-Sanhouri, a nephew of the slain protester. "We will keep uncovering the regime's brutal tactics in suppressing the protests by killings and atrocities."
Al-Sanhouri's father, Moudthir al-Reih, told The Associated Press: "this regime will come to an end ... God willing it will be over."
Public discontent had been growing over failed economic and political policies that led South Sudan to break off and became an independent state in 2011, taking approximately three quarters of Sudan's oil production with it. Critics also blamed al-Bashir for draining the country's coffers by battling armed rebel movements in three different fronts inside the country.
The unrest began in the city of Wad Madani south of Khartoum but quickly spread to at least nine districts in Khartoum and seven cities across the country.
The crackdown on thousands of protesters has been violent, leaving at least 50 dead according to international rights groups. Doctors and activists put the death toll higher, telling The Associated Press it stands at more than 100. The government has acknowledged some 33 killed, including policemen.
In a latest blow to freedom of the press, Sudanese authorities also forced the country's largest daily newspaper, Al-Intibaha, to stop printing, according to the paper's website. The paper, the country's largest in terms of circulation, is owned and run by an uncle of al-Bashir, al-Tayab Mustafa. Mustafa could not be immediately reached.