Khartoum — The Sudanese government abruptly implemented previously announced austerity measures on Sunday evening by raising the price of a gallon of petrol to SDG21 ($4.65) and diesel to SDG14 ($3.17).
Sources told Radio Dabanga that Khartoum has turned into a quasi-military barracks due to the tight security measures imposed in anticipation of the 'wrath of the streets'. Nevertheless, demonstrations broke out yesterday, at the Souq El Arabi and the Nilein University in central Khartoum, the neighbourhood of El Deim in Khartoum, and in Wad Madani, the capital of Gezira state. At the same time leaders of political parties and activists were arrested.
The government also announced a substantial increase of the prices of a number of commodities, which led to the 'synchronisation' of the rate of the Sudanese pound on the 'parallel market' as the black market is termed in the Sudanese media. The dollar jumped to SDG8.20.
In Wad Madani yesterday tens of thousands citizens and students went on the streets to protest against the raise of prices and demanding the 'fall of the regime' which led to the closure of shops and public transport. Three petrol stations and the branch of the French-Sudanese bank on the Soug El Kabir went up in flames, as also happened with a government administration unit at Soug El Malaja. The police reacted by shooting with rubber bullets and making heavy use of tear gas. Dozens of demonstrators were arrested.
One of the demonstrators in Wad Madani told Radio Dabanga that the heave use of tear gas caused injuries among the demonstrators had to go to hospital for treatment. She said that the protestors raised banners wording that "the Sudanese people demand the overthrow of the regime", and "Hey policemen, how much do you earn?"
The authorities in Wad Madany announced that the security services and the police on Monday managed to contain "the limited riots". According to the official news agency, Sudan News Agency (SUNA), the government accused a 'group of saboteurs' that had attracted a 'group of vagabonds' of pushing its way to the central bus station of the city. SUNA reported that they caused damage to a petrol station at the Soug El Jadid and that they tried to destroy the television station of Gezira state and a number of government service offices, but the situation came quickly under control and peace returned.
In Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, where there were protests in El Deim, Soug El Arabi and El Nilein University, the police used tear gas and sticks to disperse the crowd. A number of activists of the Sudanese Party and of Girifna were arrested in Khartoum North. An activist informed Radio Dabanga that "thunderous demonstrations" started from El Deim popular neighbourhood, led by women shouting "down with the regime". They were surrounded by the security men after Amarat Street was closed. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that a number of the women were arrested.
At the Nilein University in Khartoum students went out to demonstrate but were quickly cordoned by a huge police force. The demonstrators then tried to restart their protests at the Soug El Arabi, which was also surrounded by police.
The Cabinet, under the chairmanship of President Omar El Bashir, approved on Monday the removal of subsidies on fuel, the consecutive adjustment of the rate of the Sudanese pound: 5.70 against one US dollar, as well as a raise in price of a gallon of petrol from SDG12.50 ($2.83) to SDG21 ($4.65) and a gallon of diesel from SDG8 ($1.81) to SDG14 ($3.17). The price of a cylinder of cooking gas went up to SDG25 ($5.66).
The Cabinet approved an increase in wages of civil servants, in accordance with the President's decision. The civil servants will receive 50 per cent of their October salary before the Feast of the Sacrifice. The President also announced that an amount of SDG150 ($34) million has been reserved for the support of "poor families", to be implemented as soon as possible, just as he directed "special and quick support" for the state of Khartoum in order to constrain the rise in prices of the public transport.
The governing National Congress Party stressed that there will be "no return" to the rise in prices and the removal of the subsidy on fuel implemented on Sunday evening. The President gave a press conference on Sunday evening, together with leading figures from the government and Ministers, that lasted more than two hours, during which he presented arguments for the 'required austerity measures'. El Bashir expects that the fear of the citizens will reside when they will witness an improvement of the economy following the austerity measures.