New 'dictatorship' protests in Sudan

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IOL news jun23 sudan

REUTERS

Sudanese demonstrators staged on Saturday small-scale protests sparked by rising prices, witnesses said, the day after unrest engulfed the capital Khartoum and cities across the country.

“We will not be governed by a dictatorship!” demonstrators in the eastern town of Gedaref shouted, according to two witnesses.

They said about 200 people gathered in the main market where they denounced the high cost of food before police dispersed them with batons.

Poverty is endemic in Gedaref and the two other eastern states of Kassala and Red Sea.

In Khartoum, an AFP reporter observed the aftermath of a demonstration in a southern district of the city.

Burned tyres, stones lay in the street, and tear gas hung in the air as riot police stood by and residents clustered in alleys, the reporter said.

The unrest continued after neighbourhoods throughout the capital and in key towns around the country demonstrated on Friday, in the most serious expression of discontent since student-led protests began eight days ago.

Riot police have violently dispersed a string of demonstrations since they began on June 16 outside the University of Khartoum.

The protests symbolise “mass rejection of the regime's oppressive policies and its failure in governing this country,” Sudan Change Now, an activist youth movement, said.

Inflation has risen each month, hitting 30.4 percent in May, before Finance Minister Ali Mahmud al-Rasul on Wednesday announced the scrapping of fuel subsidies, causing an immediate jump of about 50 percent in the price of petrol.

Bankrupt Sudan has lost billions of dollars in oil receipts since South Sudan gained independence last July leaving the north struggling for revenue, plagued by inflation, and with a severe shortage of dollars to pay for imports.

The country's poverty rate is 46.5 percent, the United Nations says.

“The government must immediately retract the austerity measures it has adopted which reflect the distortion in its expenditure which continues to prioritise defence and security at the expense of social services,” Sudan Change Now said.

The current regime of President Omar al-Bashir, an army officer who seized power in 1989, withstood earlier student-led protests by thousands objecting to high prices in 1994.

Sudan's latest demonstrations remain small compared with the mass uprising that swept neighbouring Egypt last year and toppled another long-time strongman, Hosni Mubarak. -Sapa-AFP


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