Sudanese protest leaders yesterday dismissed veteran President Omar al-Bashir's declaration of a state of emergency and vowed to keep up nationwide demonstrations until his "regime is overthrown."
Bashir's three-decade rule has been rocked by two months of protests that a deadly crackdown has failed to suppress and on Friday he imposed a nationwide state of emergency and dissolved the federal and provincial governments.
In a televised speech to the nation, the veteran leader pledged to form a government of technocrats to address the country's chronic economic woes, which have been the driving force behind the protests.
But protest organisers and their supporters in the political opposition, said the state of emergency showed that Bashir's government was weakened and only its overthrow would now satisfy the protesters.
The National Umma Party, whose leader Sadiq al-Mahdi was Sudan's elected prime minister when Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, said the protests against his successor's iron-fisted rule would continue until he quit.
Analysts said the state of emergency was an act of desperation that would make it even harder to turn round the economy and ease public anger.
Sudan has been hit by a chronic shortage of hard currency to pay for imports that has worsened since South Sudan became independent in 2011, taking with it the bulk of oil earnings.
The resulting shortages in basic goods have fuelled spiralling inflation that has devastated the purchasing power and living standards of ordinary Sudanese from agricultural labourers to middle-class professionals.
The immediate trigger for the demonstrations was a government decision to triple the price of bread because of a chronic shortage of flour. Officials say that 31 people have died in protest-related violence since the demonstrations began on December 19.