Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
Credits: CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/QMI AGENCY
"Canada is concerned by the response of security forces to protests that have escalated in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan over the last 10 days," Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a statement Friday. "We condemn the arrests of bloggers, journalists and political activists that have taken place over the last week and call for their immediate release.
"We impress upon the government the importance of carrying out a genuine and inclusive reform process that addresses the true needs and interests of the Sudanese people."
Sudanese police used tear gas and batons on Friday to disperse hundreds of anti-austerity protesters chanting, "Freedom, freedom," and demanding the resignation of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's government.
Protests against spending cuts have spread outside the capital in the past two weeks, often accompanied by the chant, "The people want the downfall of the regime," - the refrain of last year's Arab Spring demonstrators.
Canada is a key player in an international effort to foster a lasting peace in Sudan and South Sudan.
Since 2006, Canada has made significant contributions toward peace, humanitarian assistance, development aid, security and peacebuilding, including through the strategic deployment of military personnel and Canadian police to peace-support operations in both countries.
On Saturday, Sudan agreed to allow humanitarian aid to civilians in rebel-controlled areas of two war-torn border states where aid groups have warned of an impending famine, the African Union and Sudanese state media said.
-- with files from Reuters