From left: Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Sudanese FM Al Dierdiry Ahmad and Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service chief Salah Gosh in Khartoum on December 27. Image Credit: AFP

Khartoum: Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry voiced support for Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir and his government on Thursday amid protests against a rise in bread prices, on a visit to Khartoum alongside Cairo’s intelligence chief General Abbas Kamel.

“Egypt is confident that Sudan will overcome the present situation,” Shoukry told reporters after he met Bashir at the presidential palace in Khartoum.

“Egypt is always ready to support Sudan and the ability of Sudanese people as per the government of Sudan’s vision and policies,” Shoukry said in what were the first remarks by a top regional Arab official in support of Bashir’s government since protests began.

The “stability of Sudan means (the) stability of Egypt,” he said.

Cairo and Khartoum have recently sought to iron out their differences in a bid to improve relations roiled by a longstanding border dispute and an impasse in talks over Ethiopia’s Nile dam.

Sudanese journalists went on strike Thursday in the wake of deadly protests against a rise in bread prices that the government says have left 19 people dead, including two members of the security forces.

“Nineteen people lost their lives in the incidents including two from security forces” since the protests began on December 19, government spokesman Boshara Juma said on state television on Thursday.

Most were killed during “incidents of lootings”, while 219 people were wounded, he said. Nobody has been killed in the capital Khartoum, Juma said.

Sudanese authorities had previously said that eight people have been killed in clashes, while Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.

The Sudanese Journalists’ Network said on Thursday it was striking in solidarity with protesters, who have taken to the streets in Khartoum and a host of other cities.

“We declare a three day strike from December 27 to protest against the violence unleashed by the government against demonstrators,” the network said.

Members held a sit-in outside the office of independent newspaper Al Tayar and security agents took away eight of the journalists to an undisclosed location, the paper’s editor Osman Mirghani told AFP.

A journalist among those reportedly detained said he and the others were quickly released.

Journalists said they were also protesting against regular confiscation of newspapers by security agents and beatings and arrests of media workers covering demonstrations.

Press personnel in Sudan frequently complain of harassment by the authorities and entire print runs of newspapers are often confiscated over articles deemed offensive by the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service.