Inside Story

Anger in Sudan?

As citizens take to the streets against austerity measures, we ask how the protests will impact on the country’s future.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has cancelled fuel subsidies, a move that has sparked angry protests in Khartoum and two other cities, leaving several people dead.

The government doubled prices for fuel and cooking gas on Monday in an attempt to balance its budget. 

Sudanese are not happy about soaring food prices, corruption, high unemployment and a lack of infrastructure. Despite austerity measures following the separation of the two Sudans, both countries have struggled to maintain economic stability.

We the government in principle accept protests, our people in Sudan have the right to protest against any measure that the government takes especially when it is affecting directly the livelihood of the people, but the government has done this because it is a responsible government, it has to take measures to reform the economy ...

by Abdullahi Alazreg, Sudanese ambassador to the UK

Sudan has lost three-quarters of its oil production – when South Sudan became independent in July 2011, its economy shrunk by 4.4 percent last year.

And while the majority of the workforce is employed in the agricultural sector, unemployment still stands at 20 percent.

More than two million people live in poverty with an estimated 300,000 people not having access to food and water.

In addition to this, the country is no stranger to conflict, it has been through two civil wars, the second of which lasted 25 years.

Also, since 1997 it has been under US-imposed sanctions, accused of supporting terrorism.
In 2003, a war started in Darfur between the government and armed groups – more than two million people were displaced and as many as half a million were killed.

However, in 2005, a peace agreement to put an end to the war in the South was signed, and the decision to have a referendum on the future of the south was agreed.

And it was In 2011, when South Sudan gained independence – this was a massive blow to Sudan’s economy as the South held on to the lion’s share of oil production. 

So, will the latest wave of protests in Sudan gain momentum? And how much of a threat do these present to the already embattled President Omar al-Bashir? 

To discuss this, Inside Story with presenter Jane Dutton, is joined by guests: Abdullah Alazreg, Sudanese ambassador to the UK; Paul Moorcraft, director of Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis, and Waleed Madibo, founder and chairman of the Governance Bureau. 

“Is this the Arab spring? Is this the revolution that is going to copy Syria or Egypt? My answer is no … I haven’t seen these … riots in the last few days, but all I can speak from [my] experience of decades of working in Sudan, and it seems to me that  it’s quite remarkably peaceful comparing with what’s happening in the neighbourhood …  ” 

-Paul Moorcraft, director of Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis