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The United States voiced on Tuesday “deep” concerns over the violence with which Sudanese authorities have been responding to peaceful demonstrations against worsening economic conditions in the last three days [...] Demonstrations mainly led by students against rising costs of living have erupted in different parts of Sudan’s sprawling capital Khartoum as well as two towns in north and east of the country as of Sunday. Police forces resorted to the use of teargas and batons to break up the demonstrators and arrested dozens. The protests follow announcements by the government of harsh austerity plans including termination of 2 billion USD in fuel subsidies as part of what official say are an attempt to confront the economic crisis that has been plaguing the country since it lost three quarters of oil revenues – the lifeblood of economy – with the secession of South Sudan in July last year.
Wieder einmal gingen sudanesische Studenten am Wochenende auf die Straße, um ihren Unmut Luft zu machen. Vor dem Campus der Universität Khartum versammelten sich etwa 200 Studenten und wurden mit Tränengas und Schlagstöcken auseinander getrieben. Unmittelbarer Anlass war die Ankündigung der sudanesischen Regierung, Subventionen auf Grundnahrungsmittel und Treibstoff drastisch zu kürzen. Durch den andauernden Streit um die Öleinnahmen mit dem Südsudan gerät Khartum seit Monaten in erhebliche wirtschaftliche Turbulenzen, im Mai war die Inflation zuletzt auf 30 Prozent nach oben geschnellt. Bereits vor etwa drei Wochen waren Studentenproteste die Sudan University of Science and Technology ausgebrochen.
IRIN hat geschrieben:
SUDAN: Austerity package sparks protests
20.06.2012 - IRIN
KHARTOUM - Protests have taken place in Khartoum, nearby Omdurman, and other Sudanese cities over the past few days after Sudanese president Umar Al-Bashir announced a new austerity plan.
Sudanese police used tear gas and batons against some 200 protesters chanting anti-regime slogans in Omdurman market on 19 June. Earlier on in the day, witnesses said police had also used force to disperse two university demonstrations.
Bashir on 18 June announced the gradual removal of fuel subsidies and an increase in taxes and customs duty on luxury products, among other measures. The plan aims to help increase revenue and narrow a US$2.4 billion budget deficit caused by the loss of oil revenue since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011.
"The current economic and political context is threatening to unleash a revolution of the hungry that will inevitably topple the government," said Hafiz Ismail, an economist and Sudan director of the London-based advocacy group Justice Africa.
The protesters also complained of a 35 percent hike in public transport tariffs in Khartoum. Sudanese inflation rose to 30.4 percent in May from 28.6 percent in April, according to the country's statistics agency.
Students gathered at the gates of Khartoum's Sudan University chanting "No to price hikes" and "People want the regime down", before the police dispersed them using "excessive violence", according to Ghazy Badridden, a faculty of engineering graduate who participated in the demonstrations.
Students from Ahlia University in Khartoum were driven out of their classrooms after a large number of security personnel, accompanied by students who belong to the ruling National Congress Party, entered the campus in pick-up trucks, attacking student with clubs and batons.
The last straw
Opposition groups have rejected the new austerity package, saying it will hit working people hard and increase inflation and poverty among the already vulnerable population.
"These new measures will be the straw that broke the camel's back," said Ibrahim al-Sanousi, an assistant to the Popular Congress Party's (PCP) leader Hassan al-Turabi. "People are already tired of the regime which continues to oppress them. They'll take to the streets until they overthrow the regime."
Al-Sanousi was only released in June after spending five months in detention on suspicion of communicating with armed rebel groups.
At a meeting in mid-June in Khartoum, Sudan's opposition National Consensus Forces (a coalition of opposition political parties including the Umma Party, the PCP and the Communist Party) agreed to launch a large-scale campaign of protests against the removal of fuel subsidies. It further discussed ways of toppling the regime, as well as an interim constitution and a transitional programme to rule the country in a three-year post-regime period. Opposition groups are scheduled to meet on 26 June to sign the two texts.
Sudanese government spokesman Rabie Abdul Ati played down the negative impact of the new measures, and said opposition moves to mobilize the street against the regime would fail.
"The Sudanese have been through harsher times during the nineties and they didn't revolt," he told IRIN by phone. "People are aware of the crisis we've been through after the secession, loss of oil and then the shutdown of oil production, and they know these reforms are the only way to restore the recovery of the national economy."
Sudan, which has been subject to US economic sanctions since 1997, lost three-quarters of the formerly united country's oil production when South Sudan gained independence in July. Negotiations since then have failed to yield an agreement on how much landlocked South Sudan should pay to use a pipeline and processing facilities in Sudan.
"The austerity package will not help the economy grow, rather it will prolong the recession, curb the purchasing power of consumers, and will only affect the poor," said Justice Africa's Ismail. "The government said the new package will save $2 billion annually. Well, it can save five-times the amount by cutting military spending.
"The only way out for this regime and for the economic crisis is political. This regime is unable to solve the conflict in Darfur and the three border states, or settle the conflict with South Sudan, or even manage its relations with the world."
Police arrested more than 25 students on 19 June, according to lawyer Khansaa Ahmed Ali, having arrested 79 people - including 25 students - the previous day for participating in a demonstration in the district of Bahari, Khartoum.
Sudanese political activist Mohamed Alim, 28, was also arrested at his house in Khartoum by security officials on 20 June, according to lawyer Wagdy Saleh.
In a separate incident, security forces on 18 June arrested at least 40 members of opposition groups during a meeting at the premises of the Haq movement in Khartoum. A statement issued on the state-run SUNA news agency, said the police had contained a "small demonstration" in Bahari, Khartoum, and had arrested "students and intruders who tried to incite riots attack citizens properties".
The Sudanese government on Wednesday revealed in greater details the increases it wants to introduce into the prices of fuel products [...] Addressing the parliament, finance minister Ali Mahmoud said that the government had decided to hike the price of one gallon of fuel by 5 pounds and Gasoline by 2.5 pounds [...] the added value tax would be increased from 15 percent to 17 percent. He further added that all government-owned security companies would no longer be exempt from taxes and customs fees. According to Mahmoud, subsidies on certain commodities such as Sugar would also be lifted. The finance minister went on to reveal that the deficit in the amended 2012 budget has reached 3.6 percent, amounting to more than 2 billion US dollars. Mahmoud indicated that the amended budget adopts a 4.4 exchange rate for the dollar in order to match its value in the black-market for hard currency. The minister said that the amended budget aims to bring the inflation rate down to 25 percent and to achieve a growth rate of 2 percent. Sudan’s inflation rate jumped to 30 percent in May, mainly on food prices, as the local currency continued to reach new lows against the dollars. The dollar now trades for twice the value of the official rate in the black market.
Anti-government protests in Sudan continued for the sixth day on Thursday amid reports of crackdown on journalists. Eye witnesses told Sudan Tribune that fresh protests erupted Thursday in and around the institute of financial and banking studies in downtown Khartoum but the police had managed to disperse the protesting students using teargas and batons [...] Sudanese activists say they are planning more protests today after Friday prayer. The degree to which the public participates in Friday’s protests will indicate whether the protest movement is likely to develop into an all-out uprising.
The protest movement that began in Sudan six days ago has gained momentum on Friday with serious demonstrations taking place throughout the day in various parts of the capital Khartoum as well as in other key towns. Sudanese activists posted dozens of pictures and video footages online showing clashes between protestors and police using tear gas in the streets of Khartoum, the capital of Al-Jazzera State, Madani, and Al-Obayid town in north Kordofan State. The protests started following Friday prayer in what anti-government activists online termed the “Friday of the Kataha [a Sudanese word for sandstorm]” as part of the “Sudan Revolts” campaign which began on Sunday, 17 June, with demonstrations mainly led by students against rising costs of living.
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