Protests in Sudan as fuel prices soar

Anger as government doubles fuel prices hitting a nation affected by recent flooding, sustained conflict and corruption.

    Protests in Sudan as fuel prices soar
    Many Sudanese have grown impatient with economic and political crises caused by consistent mismanagement [AFP]

    One person is reported dead as Sudanese police dispersed protests in Khartoum and two other cities against the canceling of fuel subsidies by President Omar al-Bashir.

    In power since 1989, Bashir has avoided an "Arab spring" uprising of the sort that unseated other rulers in the region, but many in Sudan complain about soaring food prices, corruption, harassment from security services, violent conflicts, high unemployment and a lack of infrastructure.

    The government doubled prices for fuel and cooking gas on Monday to bring its budget under control. The Arab African country lost three-quarters of its oil reserves – its main resource - when South Sudan became independent in 2011.

    “Go, go!”

    Within hours of petrol stations adjusting their price displays, some 800 protesters gathered in the centre of Wad Madani, capital of Gezira state south of Khartoum, shouting "No, No to price hikes," witnesses told Reuters.

    Others called on Bashir to resign, yelling "Go, go!"

    One person is thought to have been shot dead in Wad Madani after protesters set fire to the ruling National Congress Party buildings, according to local news reports and social media.

    Police downplayed events and said security forces had controlled a "limited riot” using tear gas, according to SUNA the state news agency.

    Late on Sunday, Bashir held a televised news conference lasting two hours to defend his abolition of fuel subsidies. He promised to use much of the money saved to help the poor and increase salaries for civil servants.

    But many Sudanese have grown impatient with years of what they see as economic and political crises caused by consistent mismanagement and US trade sanctions.

    "The government ... has no idea of what people are going through. I am ready to join any protest against the lifting," said 41-year old Ahmed Lassan, an unemployed worker.

    Almost double

    Petrol stations in the capital Khartoum raised the price of a gallon (3.8 litres) of petrol on Monday to 21 pounds (almost $3 based on black market prices), from 12 pounds.

    A gallon of gasoline now costs 14 pounds, up from 8.5 pounds. The prices for a cylinder of cooking gas rose to 25 pounds from 15 pounds.

    Sudan produces too little to feed its 32 million people.

    Even basic food imports such as wheat arrive by ship in Port Sudan, before they get trucked for days across the vast country, spurring food-price inflation.

    The government claims annual inflation has fallen to 23.8 percent in July from 37.1 percent in May but independent analysts dismiss the figures and put the rate at 50 percent or even higher.

    The Sudanese pound is worth barely a third of its value against the dollar on the black market at the time of the South’s succession.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.