Sudan’s Price Protests Turn Deadly

“Peaceful demonstrations were derailed and transformed by infiltrators into subversive activity targeting public institutions and property, burning, destroying and burning some police headquarters” – gov’t spokesman Bishara Jumaa.

Sudan Protests claims at least eight lives
At least eight people have been killed while taking part in Sudanese protests against economic hardship, and especially higher bread prices. (Photo: El Tayeb Siddig, Reuters)

BY AGENCIES *

At least eight people have been killed in protests that have swept across Sudan for a second consecutive day amid rising public anger over soaring prices and other economic woes.

The demonstrations began on Wednesday in Atbara, Ed-Damar and Berber, where Sudanese police fired tear gas to break up large crowds of protesters chanting anti-government slogans.

The disturbances later became violent and several people were reportedly shot.



Authorities on Thursday declared a state of emergency in the eastern city of Gadarif, according to legislator Al-Tayeb al-Amine Tah speaking to local broadcaster Sudania 24 without providing further details.

“The situation in Gadarif has become dangerous and the protests have developed to include fires and theft and it’s now out of control,” Mubarak al-Nur, its independent member of parliament, told Reuters news agency.

Authorities also imposed a curfew on the city after protesters torched the headquarters of President Omar al-Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP).

Witnesses said that in some areas, the military was not intervening and even appeared to be siding with the demonstrators.

“The protests began peacefully and then turned to violence and vandalism … We declared a state of emergency and a curfew and the closure of schools in the city,” Hatem al-Wassilah, the governor of the Nile River state.

The latest protests were triggered on Wednesday by a government decision to raise bread prices from one Sudanese pound ($0.02) to three Sudanese pounds ($0.063).

Some of the demonstrators called for the “fall of the regime”, a slogan that was common during the Arab Spring uprisings that swept through the region in 2011. Police said “limited” protests in Khartoum had been contained.

Sudan’s security forces have previously used deadly force to break up protests over price increases.

On Friday, a spokesperson for the Sudanese government said the protests of the two previous days were “dealt with in a civilised way without repression or opposition”.

“Peaceful demonstrations were derailed and transformed by infiltrators into subversive activity targeting public institutions and property, burning, destroying and burning some police headquarters,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying to the official Sudan News Agency.



“The crisis is known to the government and is being dealt with.”

The Sudanese government is now expected to remove a raft of subsidies, leading to further rises.

Economic conditions in Sudan have deteriorated in recent months, despite the lifting of longstanding US sanctions, with inflation at almost 70%.

Washington, however, has kept Sudan on its list of state sponsors of terrorism, which prevents Khartoum from accessing much-needed financial aid from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

In a separate development on Wednesday, leading opposition figure Sadiq al-Mahdi returned to the country after nearly a year in self-imposed exile.

Mahdi was overthrown in 1989 by a group of military commanders close to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s National Congress Party.

“The regime has failed and there is economic deterioration and erosion of the national currency’s value,” Mahdi, who heads the Umma party, told thousands of his supporters.

His party has argued that Bashir must go in order to improve the country’s image abroad and attract crucial investment and aid.

* BBC News and Al Jazeera contributed to the story.

.