Anti-regime protesters clashed with police in Sudan’s capital on Monday, witnesses said, as President Omar al-Bashir announced a raft of austerity measures aimed at propping up the country’s ailing finances.
Speaking in parliament, Bashir said the government had decided to raise taxation and remove fuel subsidies “step by step,” as well as axing hundreds of positions in the federal and state governments and cutting officials’ salaries.
It was the third time in as many days that protests have been held outside the university next to the Blue Nile river in the centre of the capital, with students chanting anti-regime slogans and denouncing a sharp rise in food prices.
AFP, Bloomberg, and Reuters have more on the austerity measures and the reasoning behind them. Sudan’s $2.4 billion deficit results largely from the loss of South Sudan and its oil revenues, a loss compounded by months of conflict, tension, and unresolved issues between Sudan and South Sudan. These unresolved issues included transport fees for South Sudanese oil, fees Khartoum hoped would help fix its deficit (it should be noted that South Sudan’s economy is suffering too). Inflation in Sudan has hit 30%. Sudan “effectively devalued its currency in May to try to attract more remittances from Sudanese living abroad and to try to boost gold and agricultural exports. But experts say it will take time for the measure to have an impact.” Finance Minister Ali Mahmoud Abdel Rasoul is expected to present a new budget to parliament on Wednesday, which could be an occasion for further protests.
Students are reportedly leading many of the protests, but others have turned out as well. Opposition parties have also apparently threatened to take to the streets (Arabic). The protests now seem to tap into not just anger at the current economic situation, but also standing resentment of the government in Khartoum – Sudan saw serious anti-regime protests last year, with students also playing a prominent role at the time. Now, as then, the regime response has included significant repression, which partly succeeded in discouraging protests in 2011.