(Repeats to remove extraneous word in eighth paragraph)
By Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM, June 8 Sudan's main opposition
movement called on Saturday for mass protests to topple
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, saying regional rebellions and
an economic crisis had left the veteran leader weak and
Bashir's opponents have failed to capitalise on popular
discontent over soaring food prices since South Sudan broke away
in 2011, taking most of the country's oil production with it.
Uprisings that shook the Arab world that year have largely
passed Sudan by, the security forces descending quickly on
frequent small street protests by students before they have a
chance to spread.
Bashir, who came to power in 1989, still enjoys the support
of the army and influential Islamist groups. He crushed
challengers to his rule in a 2010 election and dismisses the
opposition parties as insignificant.
The National Consensus Forces, an umbrella of the main
opposition parties, said they had decided to call for mass
protests because the government was fast losing support. They
said Bashir could be out of power within three months.
"The regime is very weak... We will begin today and in the
next days to prepare popular demonstrations," Farouk Abu Issa,
head of the alliance, told reporters. "We expect that the regime
will fall in 100 days."
Abu Issa said the protests would start in Khartoum and the
city of Omdurman across the Nile and then spread to large
university cities. He gave no further details.
There was no immediate comment from the Khartoum government.
Some critics of the opposition say its leadership fails to
pose a real challenge to the authorities because it is more
absorbed by political rivalries and internal squabbling.
Several opposition figures, such as Hassan al-Turabi, have
past connections to Bashir, sapping the opposition's credibility
among many Sudanese.
The opposition has changed tack this year, announcing in
January that it would coordinate with an alliance of rebel
groups trying to topple Bashir from their strongholds in the
western region of Darfur and two southern border states.
Abu Issa said the opposition was working with the rebel
alliance, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), even though it
opposes its violent tactics.
"The SRF is our strategic partner. We don't agree with them
on using military means ... but we share the same goal of
bringing down the regime," he said.
One of the members of the SRF is Darfur's Justice and
Equality Movement (JEM), which attacked Khartoum in 2008.
The SRF launched a major assault on central Sudan in April
as it tries to move the front closer to Khartoum and force the
army to fight on several fronts in what they see as a war of
(Writing by Ulf Laessing; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)