Despite a wave of protests against his rule in many cities of Sudan, the African country’s long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir has vowed to stay in power. Speaking at a rally to his supporters Bashir said, "(To) those who are seeking power, there is one way which is in the ballot box, through free and fair elections."

Bashir came to power as the ruler of Sudan in 1989 in an Islamist backed-coup and has ruled the country ever since. He has managed to stay through the split of the country as protests and civil war led to the creation of South Sudan.

Anti-Bashir protests began in small towns and villages before spreading to cities like Omdurman and Khartoum. Angry Sudanese have come on to the streets since the second week of December after the government tripled the price of bread and high fuel prices at a time when the country is suffering an acute shortage of foreign currency and inflation is at 70 percent.

At least 19 people, including two security personnel, have been killed during the demonstrations, but Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 40.

Close to 1000 protesters have been arrested since demonstrations began, with the government insisting that the situation has now stabilised. Opposition leaders, activists and journalists have been detained in a crackdown to prevent protests from spreading. News organisations have also been banned from reporting and covering the protests.

However, soon after Bashir’s speech as his supporters dispersed, protesters took their place and chanted anti-government slogans in Omdurman. Protesters chanted "Freedom, peace and justice" as they were confronted by riot police who used tear gas to disperse them.

International government have also reacted sharply to the Sudan government’s actions however there is broad support for Bashir as he is seen as a source of stability in the region. Even as the Sudanese people come on to the streets and demand change, much depends on how long demonstrations can be maintained, and how much force the regime is prepared to deploy to crush its opponents.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 10, 2019 06:51 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website