Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir attends the inking of a peace deal between the government of the Central African Republic and 14 armed groups in Khartoum on February 05, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Khartoum: Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir, facing near-daily demonstrations against his government, took a newly conciliatory tone with the protesters on Wednesday, saying they are mostly young with poor prospects, and pledging to release detained journalists.

Al Bashir’s remarks appeared to be part of a new strategy to soften the government’s stance toward the protests after the Defence Minister and Prime Minister made similar remarks in recent days.

“Most of the protesters are young and there are factors that drove them to take to the streets, including inflation, which led to higher prices - and the limited job opportunities that don’t match the number of graduates,” Al Bashir told journalists invited to the presidential palace for a “discussion of recent events”.

The remarks are a dramatic contrast to Al Bashir’s previous demand for the “rats to go back to their holes”.

Al Bashir warned against destabilising the Sudanese state, however, saying “you can look at what happened in Libya,” which has been in a state of turmoil since a 2011 civil war led to the overthrow of longstanding ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

The protests, which started on Dec. 19, were triggered by price increases, limits on cash withdrawals and other economic hardships but have since shifted focus to Al Bashir’s 30-year rule.