KHARTOUM, Jan. 8 — As calls for peaceful protests against rising prices of necessary commodities in Sudan mount, the Sudanese government has reiterated its rejection to sabotage of public properties and vowed to suppress any illegal demonstrations.
Sudan is witnessing limited protests against prices hike amid calls by some parties and organizations for peaceful demonstrations against tough government economic measures. “Expression through peaceful means is allowed, but any sabotage during the protests is not allowed,” said Babikir Digna, State Minister at Sudan’s Interior Ministry, in a statement.”
Gatherings and public symposia require prior permission, and any sabotage during protests is not allowed,” the minister added, warning that the police forces would suppress any illegal protest. Meanwhile, Sudanese political forces and parties called on the Sudanese people to come out in peaceful protests against the recent economic decisions.
To this end, Sudan’s opposition National Umma Party called on its supporters and the Sudanese people to peacefully resist the government policies. “We call on the Sudanese people to come down the streets in a free expression of their rejection to the failed economic policies of the regime,” said the Umma Party in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Xinhua on Sunday.
“We specifically call on our supports in all Sudan’s cities and villages to respond to this national call,” it added. The party further saw that the recent increase in the bread and electricity prices has caused the majority of the Sudanese families unable to provide for their daily living. The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), for its part, criticized in a statement the country’s 2018 budget. It attacked the government’s decision to remove subsidy from some
commodities and increase the exchange price of the customs dollar to 18 Sudanese pounds.
The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Sudan, meanwhile, described the 2018 budget, which was recently approved by the parliament, as the “worst” in the country’s history. Coincidence with the oppositions’ calls for protests, opposition forces said the Sudanese authorities on Sunday launched arrest campaigns against some of their leaders. The opposition Sudanese Congress Party announced on Sunday that its leader Omer al-Digair was arrested in North Kordofan State, pointing out that its former leader Ibrahim El-Sheikh was also arrested from his home in Khartoum besides the arrest of the party’s official in charge of human rights. “Our party is committed to take side with the issues of the masses, and repression and detention will not prevent us from expressing these convictions, spreading
the culture of resistance, working among the people, and mobilizing the people to cross with the homeland to freedom, justice and decent life,” said Mohamed al-Hassan Arabi, the party spokesman, in a statement Sunday.
Last week, the Sudanese parliament approved the general budget for 2018, which included devaluating the Sudanese pound against the U.S. dollar, with one dollar exchanging 18 Sudanese pounds from 6.9 Sudanese pounds, besides raising the electricity tariff for the industry, agriculture and trade sectors and liberalizing the price of wheat. Accordingly, flour manufacturers have raised the price of a 50-kilo sack of wheat flour from 167 to 450 Sudanese pounds, causing the owners of bakeries to raise the price of a piece of bread from 0.5 Sudanese pounds to 1 pound as of Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. Sudan consumes about 2 million tons of wheat annually, while the country’s production is only about 12 percent of the annual consumption.
The budget comprised measures to reduce government expenditure including stopping of construction of government buildings and purchasing of vehicles, besides stopping of expenditure on government companies and ceasing of all incentives and bonuses except for if authorized by the Ministry of Finance. The budget tends to achieve a growth rate of 4 percent and reduce the inflation rate to 19.5. In November 20, 2017, Sudan announced a package of economic measures to revive the economy and contain the decline of the national currency against foreign currencies. The secession of South Sudan in 2011 has negatively affected the Sudanese economy as the country lost around 70 percent of its oil revenues, creating a big gap in the foreign exchange market and the exchange rate.
Additionally, the lifting of the U.S. economic sanctions on Sudan last October 6 has not stopped the decline of the Sudanese pound against the U.S. dollar, where the exchange rate of a U.S. dollar amounted to 29 Sudanese pounds in the parallel market, according to currency dealers on Sunday. – XINHUA