Sudan: Bread and Fuel Protests Continue Throughout Sudan

A selection of breads in a bakery.

Khartoum / El Fasher / Port Sudan / El Obeid / Madani — Yesterday, protests and road closures continued for the third day in a row in Khartoum and a number of other cities in response to the high prices and general lack of bread and fuel. The bread crisis in Khartoum is reportedly caused by cuts in the allocation of flour to the state. In North Darfur, students demonstrated against the lack of bread, high transportation costs, and deteriorating education system.

The protesters closed off a large number of main roads, creating barricades and setting fire to car tyres. The streets they closed off included 60 Street in El Sahafa, the east entrance to El Jarif Bridge, and a number of streets in Khartoum.

The protesters condemned police suppression of the protests that took place on Sunday in more than 20 neighbourhoods in Khartoum, as well as in Port Sudan, Madani, and El Obeid.

The governor of Khartoum, Ayman Nimir, attributed the lack of bread in the city to a 50 per cent reduction in the share of flour allocated to the state. This reduction was the result of problems with the funding of wheat imports.

Nimir said that the state's share has now increased again to 90 per cent of the original set quota over the past two days, "which led to relative stability".

El Fasher student protests

Yesterday, hundreds of students demonstrated in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, against the lack of bread, the high transportation costs, and the deteriorating education system. The protesters moved to the governor's house and from there they headed towards the General Secretariat of the government whilst chanting slogans denouncing the crises.

The North Darfur wali (governor), Mohamed Arabi, addressed the protesters and promised to solve the bread crisis and provide textbooks and school supplies. The governor also promised to organise an inspection visit to all schools to find out more about the issues the students face.

Next to these educational promises, Mohamed Arabi promised to provide bread for school students at a price of SDG 2.5*, starting next Sunday.

The wali confirmed on his Facebook page that the difficult living conditions are the main reason for the protests.

He said that there has not been any deviation from the laws guaranteeing freedom of expression and the right to protest, as long as streets are not closed off and no person or property is attacked.

However, during a press statement, the Minister for Education in North Darfur Idris Mohamed accused a party he did not name of inciting students to leave their house and protest. He also added that a number of people directed the students to go to the home of the state governor.

Economic crisis

Protests against increased prices of essential commodities, mainly bread and fuel, are widespread in Sudan at the moment. The economic crisis and high inflation caused high price increases without the financial support for civilians to adapt to these price increases.

The response of the Sudanese government to these developments is widely criticised.

Economist Prof Mohamed Sheikhoun, for example, criticised elements of the 2021 budget, including the removal of fuel subsidies, the increase in electricity fees, and the rising expenditure on security forces and government agencies.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, he said that the government has practically abandoned the provision of commodities, such as fuel and electricity. According to Sheikhoun, this indicates that the government has taken from the people's pockets to increase national revenue.

The Economic Committee of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) also warned that the 2021 National Budget approved by the Council of Ministers last week will lead to an economic collapse in the country.

Sheikhoun further warned that the Family Support Programme 'Samarat', which Sudan started to help families battle economic hardship, is not appropriate for Sudan as it has a lack of funding, statistics, and means of delivering support.

The programme is supposed to reduce the impact of economic reforms on low-income families by providing cash transfers and improving social protection systems and safety nets.

* USD 1 = SDG 55 at the time of posting, according to the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the CBoS. Effective foreign exchange rates, however, can vary widely on Sudan's parallel market, where the greenback sold this morning for SDG 300.

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