In meeting with Bashir, Qatari Emir says supports unity in Sudan
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In meeting with Bashir, Qatari Emir says supports unity in Sudan

Bashir arrived in Qatar on Tuesday as protests triggered by rising prices and shortages of food and fuel have intensified at home. The public display of anger has now escalated into calls for Bashir to step down. "President Bashir briefed the Emir on the latest updates regarding the situation and challenges facing the country," the court of Sheikh Tamim said in a statement on Wednesday. "The Emir affirmed Qatar's firm stance on Sudan's unity and stability, and they discussed the latest developments in the Darfur peace process," the statement added. However, no new financial assistance was declared on Wednesday.  According to official figures, 26 people, including two security agents, have lost their lives since the onset of the unrest on December 19. Some rights groups say at least 40 people have died so far. Scores of arrests were also reported at many of the protests held in the past month. Bashir has blamed the protest movement on foreign "agents" and rebels from the western region of Darfur. The violence-hit region is considered as a stronghold of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA-AW), which has been battling the government in Khartoum since 2003. Qatar has long played a mediating role in Darfur crisis and was among the first countries to express support after protests erupted last month, with Qatar’s emir calling Bashir to offer "all that was necessary", according to Sudan. Sudan has maintained good ties with both sides of the rift between Qatar and other Persian Gulf countries. In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates severed their diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism but widely seen to have actually been angered by its independent foreign policy. The four countries also imposed a land, sea, and air blockade on import-dependent Qatar. Bashir has contributed troops to the Saudi-led coalition that has invaded Yemen. "For Omar al-Bashir to make his first visit since the protests to Qatar and not to other traditional allies is big," Ibrahim Fraihat, a professor of international conflict resolution at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, said. "He obviously needs help and they (other allies) haven't been able to provide it," he added. However, Sudan on Wednesday said it had received unspecified aid from the UAE, plus offers from Russia and Turkey of fuel and wheat. The scale and timing of that assistance was unclear.

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