Protests over rising prices continue in Sudan's main cities

KHARTOUM

(

24 Sep

.) -

The Sudanese have reacted with anger to the sharp increase in the prices of commodities and fuel, imposed by the National Congress Party government.

The government’s decision to immediately implement economic measures, including a lifting of fuel subsidies on Sunday, has stirred spontaneous protests in several cities in Sudan, including Nyala, Wad Madani and in several parts of greater Khartoum. In other major cities police forces and military reinforcements were deployed around markets and petrol stations, schools and universities.

For the second day in a row, hundreds of students and citizens took to the streets on Tuesday in Sudan’s largest city, Omdurman, across the Nile from Khartoum. Protests were to be seen in Souk El Shaabi and in the districts of El Thawrat (the main streets Shingeeti and El Nuss, and the El Rumi neighbourhood) and Umbadda (El Sabil, El Gimiaab and El Rashidin), to protest against the rise of prices of basic commodities and public transport.

Four Khartoum state buses, two petrol stations at Shingeeti and Sabrin and the traffic police office of Omdurman were reportedly set on fire. Also three floors of the main office of the ruling National Congress Party in Umbadda burned out. The protests, calling for the “overthrow of the regime”, led to the closure of schools, shops, Souk Omdurman, the Souk El Shaabi, and the suspension of public transport.

Various witnesses told Radio Dabanga that most of the protesters were ordinary citizens and students from secondary schools. They took control of the main streets and neighbourhoods of Omdurman, burning tires, and shouting slogans ‘down with the regime’. He added that after that the police closed the streets and started arresting dozens of protesters.

In Khartoum, as listeners told Radio Dabanga, students of the University of Khartoum began to go out to demonstrate, despite the cordon of riot police cars around the university buildings. The main streets of the city witnessed violent clashes between demonstrators and the police and security men, which resulted in a number of injuries and deaths. The demonstrators set fire to a bus of Khartoum state and a number of petrol stations.

Activists told Radio Dabanga that dozens of students arrested have been brought to summary justice. They were convicted to fines of SDG200 ($45) and 20 lashes. The activists also reported that a number of protesting students fainted because of the dense teargas used by the police.

In the city of Nyala, South Darfur, hundreds of secondary school students, joined by citizens, demonstrated against the rise of prices, in particular of the public transport prices, which were increased by 100 per cent. The students called for “the fall of the regime” and demanded its departure from Khartoum. An activist told Radio Dabanga that the police dispersed the demonstrators by shooting into the air with live ammunition, and by using tear gas and sticks. A number of protesters were arrested.

The Sudanese Organisation for the Defence of Rights and Freedoms demands the release of hundreds of people detained by security forces during and after the demonstrations against the increase of prices, as well as the formation of a committee to investigate the killing of demonstrators.

The chairperson of the Organisation, Dr Farouk Mohamed Ibrahim, reported in an interview with Radio Dabanga that the authorities on Monday arrested more than a hundred protesters in Khartoum. He called for urgent investigations of the killing of demonstrators.

The Organisation also reported that it closely follows the issue of violations of various freedoms in the country, especially the freedom of expression. In this respect, Ibrahim confirmed to Radio Dabanga the confiscation of newspapers and the continuous daily monitoring of the newspapers’ contents by the security services. He reported that on one day, which was last Thursday, three newspapers were confiscated at the printing press: El Ayam, El Jarida, and El Intibaha. El Jarida again was confiscated on Tuesday. On the same day a number of journalists were warned not to write and publish.


News photo: A Khartoum State bus burns after being torched by protesters in Omdurman (Sudan Tribune)

 

Students barricade a main road in Omdurman (Sudan Tribune)

Related:

Protests as Sudan lifts fuel subsidy (23 September 2013)

Plan to lift subsidies on fuel ‘death penalty’ for Sudanese (18 September 2013)

High prices make life in Darfur ‘an unbearable hell’: resident (17 September 2013)