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Police break up student protests in Sudan

  |   July 9, 2012 at 9:37 AM
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KHARTOUM, Sudan, July 9 (UPI) -- Sudanese police used tear gas to break up student demonstrators in Khartoum who marched and called for the ouster of President Omar Al-Bashir.

The protest Sunday was the latest in anti-regime demonstrations in the capital and other communities since Bashir's government began implementing an austerity program that ended a popular fuel subsidy.

Witnesses said anti-riot police forces fired tear gas to break up crowds of hundreds of students who marched from Khartoum University calling for the end of military rule and Bashir's ouster, the Sudan Tribune said. Police responded after protesters threw stones at them, the witnesses said.

Government officials said Sudan faces a $2.4 billion budget deficit.

The ruling National Congress Party said the deficit resulted from a loss of 75 percent of the country's oil production since South Sudan declared its independence last summer. Opposition groups said the losses were due to corruption, a bloated government bureaucracy and overspending on defense and security.

One government official said the National Congress Party would consider early elections if the Sudanese people rejected the austerity policy, the Tribune said.

"If the people decided they don't want this policy, we will go to elections," the official said.

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