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Bashir announces strict measures to face economic crisis in Sudan

Mohamed Hilali
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s announcement to remove subsidies on fuel, amongst other austerity measures, coincides with popular protests against rising costs of living and soaring food prices.
20.06.2012  |  Khartoum
الرئيس السوداني عمر البشير يخاطب جلسة البرلمان ويعلن الإجراءات الإقتصادية يوم 18 يونيو.
الرئيس السوداني عمر البشير يخاطب جلسة البرلمان ويعلن الإجراءات الإقتصادية يوم 18 يونيو.

During a parliament speech on Monday, June 18, President Omar al-Bashir announced a series of decisions and measures aimed to address the aggravating economic crisis in Sudan.

These decisions are concerned with reviewing the budget structure, including expenditure priorities, especially under the first chapter (salaries and wages), reducing the state structure, legislators’ allocations and suspending the construction of new government buildings.

Sudanese Minister of Finance, Ali Mahmoud.
© The Niles | Mohamed Hilali
The announcement also stated that the constitutional posts and the like, in both executive and legislative bodies, would be curtailed by 45% and 56%, respectively, including over 280 government posts”.

Al-Bashir also said his government decided to reduce and rationalise public expenditure, and continue its programme of liquidating and privatising state-owned enterprises, which started last year with 27 companies”.

The speech further stressed the need to comply with the provisions of the finance and accounting regulations, as well as procurement and contracting procedures. Bashir emphasised the need to abide by the civil servants recruitment and promotion criteria, to subject all state bodies and agencies to the National Auditor’s Office, and to prevent evasion of auditing procedures”.

In this context, the Sudanese Parliament speaker, Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir, said these actions come after long consultations with experts, specialists and all government institutions and senior government officials”.

The Speaker further said the President’s address aimed to explain facts before the Sudanese people’s representatives”, and he also states that the economic crisis experienced by the country is a result of the separation from South Sudan.

Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Sudan National Council, Mohammed Hassan al-Amin.
© The Niles |  Mohamed Hilali
The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee at the parliament, Muhammad Hassan al-Amin, accused different parties, without naming them, of exploiting this situation to incite street violence against the government”.

In statements made after his speech, he said that citizens’ protests were a natural thing”, and urged the Sudanese people to demonstrate sacrifices in the face of this crisis, referring to the necessity of applying these economic measures at this juncture.

Al-Bashir’s parliament address as well aimed at ending speculations about emergency measures in view of the economic crisis, which was associated with protests by large sectors of the country, on multiple levels.

On the opposition side, the People’s Congress MP, Ismail Hussein, considered these measures insufficient”. Although the parliament’s opposition leader said it is a step in the right direction, he criticised the speech for not mentioning the ongoing war in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, indicating that this war is draining the country’s economy”, adding that the government should have increased its efforts to bring it to a halt.

Ismail Hussein, a Popular Congress MP.
© The Niles | Mohamed Hilali
Ismail further said there is a corruption network” that impedes the success of these measures. He believes there is no need at all for the removal of subsidies on fuel, calling the government to pursue a rationalisation policy”, under which subsideies for the rich would be removed, in reference to capital owners and traders.

The National Consensus Forces general body (the opposition) demanded from the Democratic Unionist Party, incorporated in the present government, to withdraw from the government. It made a direct appeal to the Party Chairman, to contribute effectively for the liberation of the country”.

The head of the general body, Farouk Abu Issa, said in a press release on Monday, June 18, they (Federal Party cadres) should contribute to the honour of overthrowing the regime”.

He added that the Democratic Unionist Party should withdraw from the government very soon, ahead of the deluge that threatens this government, because the National Congress’ persistence on increasing prices is a crime against the people”.
Several Sudanese cities, including Khartoum Bahry, were aligned in protests against the grinding price rises. Especially students from Khartoum University clashed with police forces that tried to stem out the protests, aimed at expressing the students’ dissatisfaction about these measures.

A well-equipped police unit stormed the Movement of New Democratic Forces’ headquarters (opposition group), and arrested about 50 of the Youth Alliance leaders during a launching ceremony of the alliance’s centre. Among those arrested are Rashida Shamsudin, from Girifna, Ahmad Shaker from the Movement of New Democratic Forces, and Rizqa Hamid, from the East Sudan Youth Group.

Sources said a security cordon was imposed on the streets leading to the Movement of New Democratic Forces’ headquarters.

The Security Services’ control on newspapers has been tightened as well. Two state security officers visit the daily newspapers’ offices every day, checking all articles before they are sent for printing. At present, all news and media follow-ups about the popular protests have been muted, due to the strict censorship applied.