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On Sudan’s Streets, Young Professionals Rise Against an Autocrat

Protesters in Khartoum, Sudan, this month. Demonstrations that began in December as a howl against soaring bread prices are now driven by calls for the president’s ouster.CreditCreditMohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters

CAIRO — As chaotic antigovernment demonstrations engulfed Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, a young doctor emerged from his hiding place and strode down a deserted street, his hand held high.

An eyewitness said the doctor, Babiker Salama, approached a group of security officials gathered around a truck last week and issued a plea. A protester had been injured and was badly bleeding, he said. Would the officers permit his evacuation?

Exactly what happened next is hotly disputed by Sudan’s president and the protesters seeking his ouster, but the result is not. A gunshot rang out. Dr. Babiker, 27, fell to the ground, grievously injured. An hour, later he was dead.

The death of Dr. Babiker, an idealistic young man from an affluent family, has emerged as a signal moment in a powerful tide of protestthat has roiled Sudan over the past five weeks, posing the greatest threat yet to the country’s ruler of 30 years, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Demonstrations that started on Dec. 19 as a howl against soaring bread prices in the city of Atbara have snowballed into a nationwide movement, driven by daily protests calling for the president’s ouster. They hope to succeed where international efforts failed; Mr. Bashir’s autocratic rule has endured despite American missile attacks, war crimes indictments, international condemnation, economic sanctions, and a momentous 2011 split that led to the creation of South Sudan.

“Just fall, that is all!” cry protesters who mass in the streets of Khartoum nearly every day, often in an effort to reach the National Assembly building on the banks of the Nile. The security forces beat them back with tear gas and live gunfire. Read more...

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