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Qatar emir backs Sudan’s ‘unity’ in meeting with Bashir

Qatar’s ruler said Wednesday the Gulf emirate backs the “unity and stability” of Sudan as he met the country’s President Omar al-Bashir in Doha, but there was no announcement of a financial rescue package.

The emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, hosted the Sudanese leader on his first trip abroad since widespread demonstrations erupted last month against his 30-year rule.

“The emir stressed Qatar’s commitment to the unity and stability of Sudan. The talks also focused on developments of the peace process in Darfur,” the Qatar News Agency reported.

It said the talks covered “bilateral ties”, without giving details.

There was no announcement, however, of any financial assistance from wealthy Qatar for Bashir, whose government faces huge protests over a looming economic crisis involving rising food costs, soaring inflation and a shortage of foreign currency.

The Sudanese leader, 75, left Qatar and flew back to Khartoum late Wednesday.

Bashir’s regime has been rocked by anti-government protests which erupted across Sudan on December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread.

The protests are the biggest challenge yet to Bashir’s authority, who swept to power in 1989 in an Islamist-backed coup.

Officials say 26 people have died so far in the protests, while rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at more than 40.

Qatar and Sudan are long-time allies.

The Gulf state has mediated between Khartoum and rebel groups involved in the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan that erupted in 2003.

Bashir’s regime has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and he has been charged by The Hague-based International Criminal Court with genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

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