(Adds information minister comments, calls for protests on Thursday, Engineers’ protest on Wednesday)
By Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Sudan, rocked by more than a month of anti-government protests, has received economic assistance from the United Arab Emirates and offers of support from Russia and Turkey, its oil minister, Azhari Abdel Qader, said on Wednesday.
“We accepted it as a normal matter between friendly countries in light of the current circumstances that Sudan is going through,” he said of the aid, which included unspecified help from the UAE and offers of “fuel, wheat and others” from Turkey and Russia.
The minister did not give details on the scale or timing of the support.
Sudan has seen near-daily protests since Dec. 19, amid worsening economic conditions and calls for an end to President Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule.
Sudan’s Information Minister Bishara Jumaa said on Wednesday, in an interview on Saudi-owned broadcaster Al Arabiya, that the government has “taken steps” to end the economic crisis and that “by March, God willing, matters will be completely resolved”.
Bashir met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha on Wednesday during his first trip abroad since the protests began.
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed said Bashir had discussed with the Qatari emir “the current economic crisis experienced by Sudan and Sudan’s efforts to get out of the crisis, and the role of brothers in general, and Qatar in particular, to help Sudan.”
“Qatar reiterated its firm and continuous support for Sudan,” he said, speaking to reporters at Khartoum airport after Bashir’s return.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a group of trade unionists who have been leading the protests, called for demonstrators to gather in 17 areas of the capital Khartoum on Thursday and march to the presidential palace. The call was the largest since the protests began.
Jumaa said those calling for the Thursday protests were “politicians” seeking to hijack the protests for political aims.
Thursday’s protests will begin at 1300 local time (1100 GMT), the association said. It said it will provide emergency facilities for injured protesters.
Security forces have used tear gas and sometimes live ammunition to break up the demonstrations, as well as arresting protesters and opposition figures.
The official death toll from over a month of unrest stands at 26, including two security personnel. Rights groups say at least 40 have died.
About 150 engineers protested outside the Engineers Club in Khartoum on Wednesday afternoon, carrying signs reading “Leave”, witnesses said. (Reporting Khalid Abdelaziz; Additional reporting by Hesham Hajali; Writing by Yousef Saba; Editing by Toby Chopra and Peter Graff)