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Sudan Protests Fuelled by Student Death Threaten African Cup Tournament

The death this weekend of a Sudanese student in fierce clashes with security forces is fuelling calls for anti-government demonstrations that threaten to put into jeopardy the second African Cup of Nations for Home-Based Players (CHAN 2011), scheduled to kick off on February 4. Sudanese activists have called online for mass protests at the funeral in the West Libya Market in the Sudanese capital Khartoum of Mohammed Abdulrahman, a student who died of injuries early Monday sustained during the weekend clashes. "You are our martyr Mohamed Abdelrahman," activists wrote on a Facebook group called Youth for Change which has more than 16,000 members. The website, encouraged by the crisis engulfing the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the toppling earlier this month of Tunisian President Zine Abdedine Ben Ali. Twitter messages from Sudanese activists say they are also planning to stage another protest on Tuesday at Khartoum’s Jackson Square. The messages say security forces clashed on Monday with protestors in the city of Kosti, south of Khartoum. With African teams beginning to arrive in Sudan for the CHAN 2011 tournament, officials of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) say they continue to monitor developments. CAF appears to believe that a heavy presence of security forces that has surrounded six universities in Khartoum and its sister city Omdurman are likely to be able to keep the situation in check. The officials said there was as of this writing no plan to cancel the competition. Security forces, concerned that the protests will escalate prevented on Monday the opposition Ajras al-Huriya and the independent al-Sahafa newspapers from being distributed because they were reporting on the demonstrations on their front pages, according to Sudanese journalists. A senior official of President Omar al Bashir’s rulling party dismissed the protests and actions against the newspaper, saying it was "not a political matter."

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