21 January 2018

Sudan: Demos Against Skyrocketing Prices Continue

Photo: Radio Dabanga
Protests on January 17, 2018 in Omdurman against the price hikes.

Khartoum / Rabak — On Friday, demonstrations against the huge price hikes continued in the Sudanese capital for the fourth day in a row. Protests were also reported in Rabak, the capital of White Nile State.

Worshippers leaving Friday afternoon, El Ansar [followers of Imam El Sadig El Mahdi] Mosque in Omdurman's Wad Nubawi district, staged a protest against the continuing increase in prices of consumer goods. Carrying the flag of Sudan, they chanted "No, no to the price increases".

Multiple sources told Radio Dabanga that the government forces used excessive force to halt the protesters. "They stormed the mosque and threw lots of tear gas in and around the mosque," one of them related.

"They surrounded the area around the mosque with their vehicles, and used live bullets, tear gas, and batons to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the main roads. However the people used the alleys in the neighbourhood to reach the roads and continued demonstrating until they were violently dispersed again."

According to El Sadig Adam Ismail, member of the Political Bureau of the National Umma Party (NUP), the party's Secretary-General Dr Sara Nugdallah, and other NUP leaders, among them Mohamed Abdallah El Doma and Ibrahim El Amin, Communist Party of Sudan leaders Mohamed Mukhtar El Khateeb and Siddig Yousef, and many other politicians, activists, journalists, and students are still being held.

Rabah El Mahdi, daughter of NUP president El Sadig El Mahdi, strongly condemned the storming of the mosque, and the "extremely violent arrest" of Khaled Saadouk inside the building. Another activist was detained as well because she filmed the violence with her mobile, she said.

Security troops and riot police also dispersed anti-price-hike protesters in Burri district in eastern Khartoum and in Rabak in White Nile State on Friday afternoon.

In Atbara in Nile River State, agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service detained Fathi El Hadi, a member of the Communist Party, at one of the petrol stations in the town on Friday, while he was calling on the residents of the town to protest the fuel crisis and the price hikes.

Customs rate

In early January, the Sudanese markets were hit by the consequences of financial measures taken by the government based on the 2018 National Budget.

In addition to increased levies and taxes imposed on traders and citizens, the customs rate of the Dollar was raised from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18.

The prices of the main consumer goods immediately doubled or even tripled. As the government completely cut its wheat subsidies, the price of flour increased with 233 per cent. Bakeries began to sell smaller loafes of bread for double the price.

Protests

Since then, people in various parts of the country took to the streets almost every day to protest the austerity measures. The 2018 Budget has been criticised as well for allocating the majority of funds to security, defence and presidential expenditures.

On Tuesday, the Communist Party organised a mass rally in Khartoum, against the new austerity measures.

Dozens of journalists, senior leaders of political parties, members of civil society organisations, employees, workers, youth, and students participated in the march in an unprecedented scene in which police and security forces used excessive force. Many protesters, among them prominent party leaders, were detained.

The following day, a protest vigil called for by the NUP and entitled 'Salvation of the Homeland' went ahead in Omdurman in spite of attempts by the security apparatus to prevent it.

A declaration, read out on behalf of the opposition forces, at a press conference at the NUP headquarters on Wednesday called for removal of the regime headed by Omar Al Bashir, the formation of a transitional government, and a just and comprehensive peace agreement that eliminates the causes of the conflicts in the country.

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