Analysis: Sudan rulers dig in as foes look for Arab Spring
Outside the University of Khartoum, riot police in blue fatigues perch on pickup trucks, keeping watch as young women in bright headscarves and men in button-down shirts walk by carrying textbooks to class in Sudan's intense summer heat.
Less than a week earlier, the campus - just a few hundred meters (yards) from the national security headquarters - was a battleground. Police fired teargas and used batons to break up hundreds of protesters, who threw rocks back at them.
No one expects the shaky truce to last. After more than a week of anti-government demonstrations fueled by budget cuts and tax increases, Sudan's rulers are digging in. Riot police have been deployed, coverage of protests in local media restricted, and scores arrested, activists and opposition groups say.
It is still far from clear whether the protests, which have rarely mustered more than a few hundred people at a time, will gather the kind of momentum seen in last year's Arab Spring uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, and so pose a real threat to Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
But the tough response to the demonstrations shows how high the stakes are for Sudan's rulers, already struggling to contain multiple armed rebellions and an economic crisis triggered by the loss of oil output and revenues through South Sudan's secession last year.
In a defiant speech on Sunday - two days after the most widely spread demonstrations yet - Bashir lashed out at the protesters, dismissing them as a handful of agitators whose aims most Sudanese rejected.
"I drove around the capital on Friday in an open car. There was nothing. The people greeted me by crying 'Allahu akbar'," Bashir said. Anyone looking for an Arab Spring in Sudan, he added, was going to be disappointed.