17 June 2012

Sudan: Student Protests Erupt in Khartoum and Other Sudanese Towns

Scenes of police using tear gas to disperse protesting students who are demonstrating against government's austerity plan. ( Resource: Sudan Revolts Against Austerity Plan

Khartoum — Sporadic demonstrations erupted Sunday in Sudan's capital Khartoum as well as other parts of the country in protest against rising costs of living, drawing the usual violent response from police forces.

Eye witnesses told Sudan Tribune that students from the University of Khartoum (UoK) took to the streets on Sunday chanting slogans calling for the downfall of the government before they were forced to retreat to the campus after the police confronted them with batons and heavy tear gas.

According to the witnesses, tension is still high in and around the area where UoK is located in downtown Khartoum.

Similar student protests took place on the same day at Shendi University in the Nile River State and the eastern town of Kassala.

A number of citizens also tried to stage a protest in the main bus station in Khartoum but the police managed to disperse them.

Khartoum police, since Saturday, meant to surround the universities and was deployed in the downtown to stop any attempt to mobilise the Sudanese street .

Sudan has largely escaped the contagion of popular uprisings that swept across the Middle East but continued worsening of economic conditions is threatening increased dissent.

The Sudanese police announced in a short communiqué released Sunday evening the arrest of seven people after a "limited student protest" at the education faculty , University of Khartoum.

The police further urged the Sudanese to not follow troublemakers and rumor mongers who "aim to destabilize the security".

The opposition National Consensus Forces (NCF) called through telephone text messages (SMS) on the Sudanese to wear textile bracelet for three days to express their rejection of the increase of prices.

The opposition alliance further called to stage a campaign of set-ins and civil disobedience throughout the country against the regime.

The NCF leadership organized a symbolic set-in last Tuesday in the Sudanese capital to show their opposition to the increase of fuel prices which is to be decided among other austerity measures.

The protests come ahead of plans by the government to end fuel subsidies as part of what officials describe as drastic austerity measures need to fill a budget gap of 2.4 billion USD.

Sudan's economy has been grappling with soaring inflation and a depreciating currency since the country lost three quarters of its oil production with the secession of South Sudan in July last year.

Inflation jumped to 30 percent in May, mainly on food prices, as the Sudanese pound continues to reach new lows in the black market for hard currency.

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