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‘A grave threat to Sudan’s economy’ and the deadly consequences

Hassan Faroog
Fuel subsidy cuts, according to authorities designed to prevent an economic meltdown, sparked protests across Sudan and turned into a deadly anti-government unrest.
2.10.2013  |  Khartoum
Burnt busses in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, September 26.
Burnt busses in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, September 26.

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir announced on Sunday, September 22, the lifting of subsidies on petrol stating that supporting petrol has become a grave threat to the economy”.

The latest economic measures aim at preventing the collapse of the economy following the increase in inflation and instability in the exchange rate,” SUNA quoted Bashir.

The latest economic measures aim at preventing the collapse of the economy.”
Omar Hassan al-Bashir
This announcement provoked thousands of Sudanese to protest across the country. Seven hundred people have been arrested during the first week of the worst unrest in central Sudan in years, according to the government, as protests continue this week against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Sudan’s authorities say that 34 people have died since the unrest started, whilst activists and opposition groups say the death toll could exceed 200.

Internet connections were shut down on Wednesday, September 25, apparently in a bid to stop protesters communicating with one another.

A news blackout imposed by the authorities since the protests against President Omar Al-Bashir’s government began on September 22, is widely condemned.

Reporters Without Borders says: We urge the Sudanese government to put an end to these censorship measures, to protect journalists and to guarantee access to independent sources of information in order to encourage dialogue.”

Life has become impossible under the current economic conditions.”
Mariam Mahmoud
Meanwhile, Sudanese citizens suffer from sky rocketing prices amidst the turmoil, what some observers describe as doubling the citizen’s suffering”.

Mariam Mahmoud, a teacher, said life has become impossible under the current economic conditions”. What shall we do? And where are we heading? I have great responsibilities towards my family. This strange inexplicable increase in prices made it impossible to meet these responsibilities,” she added.

The first week of unrest sent the Sudanese Pound (SDG) to around eight Sudanese Pound (SDG) to the US Dollar. On the widely used black market, the SDG has now lost about 50 percent of its value over the past two years.

In record time, Mariam explained, one pound of milk has increased from two pounds to three”. The price of one kilo of lamb has increased from 40 to 60 SDG and beef prices have doubled.

[The subsidies cut] reflects the fall of the government economically.”
Haj Hamad
We do not know what to do to face the constant pressures of life? The government has not provided solutions to stop the increase of prices and no increases in salaries have been made. How are we supposed to survive? And now the subsidies on gasoline, gas and fuel are lifted, so what shall we do,” she worried.

Haj Hamad, a political analyst, explained that this increase reflects the fall of the government economically”, adding that it does not make sense to spend money on administrative aspects and not on productive sectors given that 85% of the budget goes for the army, security and the police”.