26 December 2018 • 4:17 PM
One of Sudan's ruling parties has demanded an inquest into the killing of anti-government protesters amid mounting pressure on long-serving dictator Omar Bashir to resign.
Idris Suleman, a senior member of the Islamist Popular Congress Party, said on Wednesday that his party's reports indicated that 17 people have been "martyred" and 88 wounded in the protests that have swept the country over the past week.
"We call on the government to launch an investigation into the killings," Mr Suleman said at a press conference in Khartoum. "Those who committed these killings must be held accountable."
Protests against rising prices and shortages of food and fuel first broke out in the city of Atabara on December 19, and rapidly spread to other cities and escalated into demands that Bashir step down.
Several protests have ended in violent crackdowns by security services.
The Popular Congress Party is a member of Mr Bashir's government and its previous leader played a key role in putting Mr Bashir in power in a military coup in 1989.
Mr Suleman's intervention came a day after a senior Sudanese military commander appeared to endorse the protests.
Mohammed Hamdan Dagolo, who commands a para-military unit called the Rapid Support Forces, was filmed on Tuesday telling several thousand troops that they should show "solidarity" with the Sudanese people and that the government is to blame for the inflation that sparked nation-wide protests last week.
Gen Dagolo is a former commander of the Janjaweed militia who took part in the genocide in Darfur.
Mr Bashir, who has ruled Sudan for 29 years, on Tuesday said he would defy calls to resign and suggested demonstrators who took to the streets over spiraling food prices are directed by foreign powers.
"You are the ones responding to them right now. From here, you are responding to all the traitors and foreign agents. I support you. And with your support, I will be back here next year," he told supporters at a rally south of Khartoum on Tuesday.
Security forces used teargas and fired rifles in the air to disperse protesters attempting to march on the presidential palace in Khartoum to demand the resignation of Bashir on Tuesday.
Organizers claimed police also used live rounds and that eight people had suffered gunshot wounds. The claim could not be immediately verified.
A further protester was reported to have died of his wounds after being shot in the head in the city of Gadaref earlier in the week, protest leaders said.
Video purporting to show hundreds of people on the streets chanting the "people want to bring down the regime," a slogan from the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, emerged from Khartoum on Tuesday afternoon.
The march, which was organised by a coalition of trade unions and the country's two biggest opposition parties, was meant to to present a petition at the presidential palace demanding Bashir stand aside for a "transitional government of technocrats."
There was a heavy security presence in Khartoum on Wednesday but no further protests.
Sudanese officials have said at least 12 people have died since the beginning of the protests. Amnesty International said on Monday that it had received "credible" reports that 37 people had been killed by security forces since protests began.
The United States, Britain, Norway and Canada said in a joint statement on Monday that they were concerned by reports security forces have used live ammunition.
Bashir, 74, has ruled Sudan since he seized power from an elected but ineffectual government in a military coup in 1989.
He has been accused of multiple human rights abuses, including directing the killing of civilians in Darfur in the 2000s, and is wanted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague on multiple charges war crimes and genocide.