Sudan: Protests over price of bread and other staples

There is deep anger in Sudan – both inside Khartoum and outside the capital – at the rising price of key commodities, including bread.

This from an eyewitness in the city:

For the past three days there were protests outside Khartoum.

But today two universities joined in. People are waiting for hours, but bread is still unavailable, and the price has tripled.

Eric Reeve, who follows the situation closely, has put out this report.

Sudan’s Economic Crisis Reaches the Tipping Point

Eric Reeves   |   January 6, 2018

These sudden, massive increases in the price of flour—and thus of bread—will inevitably lead to additional civil society outrage and unrest in Sudan; the protests of yesterday are only the first of what will likely exceed those of September 2013, during which more than 200 people were killed after the NIF/NCP regime ordered “shoot to kill orders,” a fact confirmed by Amnesty International and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies. An extremely violent response by regime to current protests against the regime’s catastrophic economic policies—crystallized in the new 2018 budget—is inevitable.

When the bloody tyranny that has ruled Sudan ruthlessly since its military coup of June 1989 finally goes, the means will be civil society actions, including demonstrations of the sort reported today by Sudan Tribune.

The failure of the international community to warn the regime off its brutally repressive measures constitutes passive acceptance, a de facto “green light” to what we will see in the coming days and weeks.

Sporadic protests have erupted on Friday in Khartoum and the Gazira State in central Sudan against the recent government decision to increase the bread price. On Friday, bakeries raised the price of a loaf of bread from 50 cents to 1 Sudanese pound following a government decision to increase the price of flour sack from 167 pounds to 450 pounds. The government decision was part of tough economic measures contained in the 2018 budget which also saw the lifting of electricity subsidies as well as increasing the U.S. dollar exchange rate to 18.00 pounds from the official rate of 6.7.

 [Given the new, dramatic, and overnight increases in flour prices—and thus bread prices—civil society outrage will spread quickly throughout Sudan—the potential for an even more massive popular uprising than that of September 2013 is clearly present. These demonstrations are certain to spread—ER]  

Several neighbourhoods in the Sudanese capital including Al-Sahafa, Al-Kalakla, Al-Giraif and Burri on Friday witnessed limited demonstrations where the protesters burned car tires to block some streets. Also, police on Friday used tear gas and batons cautiously to disperse protesters in the neighbourhoods of Al-Mazad, Shendi Foug, Al-Hilla Al-Jadida and Al-Dibaga in Wad Medani, capital of the Gezira State. There were reports that several protesters have been injured and unknown numbers were captured by the security forces. To quell anti-austerity protests in Khartoum, Sudanese security forces in September 2013 carried out a brutal crackdown on the peaceful demonstration, killing nearly two hundred protesters say human rights groups or 86 people according to government figures.

On Thursday, the opposition called on the Sudanese people to take to streets to protests against the unprecedented rise in the cost of living and commodity price. Opposition forces attribute the deteriorating living condition and economic meltdown to corruption, lack of production policies, and lack of economic reform vision following the secession of South Sudan.

Sudan Tribune, January 6, 2018

• Sudan’s bread price through the roof as of today | Radio Dabanga | January 5, 2018 | SUDAN

Khartoum has increased the price of flour, and it more than tripled in several states of the country which has been hit by the bread shortage. Bakeries closed their doors or will sell one bread instead of two for the same price, starting today. Bakeries reported that sacks of flour of 50 kilograms went up from 165 ($23.40) a piece to 550 Sudanese pounds ($78), an increase of 333 per cent. The new price increase coincides with the flour crisis that hit large areas of the capital Khartoum and other Sudanese cities, including Wad Madani, Port Sudan and areas of the states River Nile, Kassala, Darfur, Kordofan, and Northern State. Mohamed Awad El Saeed is a member of the bakeries’ union in Khartoum state. Yesterday he confirmed that the bakeries have received flour at the new price. “We have to start selling one bread instead of two for a Pound as of Friday.”

On Thursday residents in Omdurman city told Radio Dabanga about the long lines in front of the bakeries throughout the day. “The city has witnessed a scarcity of bread for days and reached its peak on Wednesday evening.” A number of bakeries was closed during that day and evening because of the depletion of the quotas of flour that are allocated to them by the state and flour distributors.

People in El Gezira state reported that “the severe bread crisis” entered its fifth day without seeing a solution from the authorities. A resident of Wad Madani told this station: “We have to stand in long queues to get bread, but not more than 20 breads per person.” Also here, a number of bakeries closed their doors because of the lack of flour. “The price of bread sold by street vendors has amounted to one Pound a piece.”

Port Sudan bakeries close

Most of the bakeries in Port Sudan closed on Thursday because of the price hike. Sources told Radio Dabanga that on Wednesday, bakery owners in Port Sudan refused to receive the flour quotas which came at the new price of SDG 452 ($64) for a sack of flour instead of SDG 178 ($25). Residents of El Duweim, White Nile state, also complained of the general rise of consumer good prices and the scarcity of bread.

Reporting closed bakeries

Some bakeries in Khartoum, Wad Madani and Atbara placed posters noting that the price of bread would rise because of the increase in flour prices. The Ministry of Finance, Economy and Consumer Affairs of Khartoum called on the popular committees in all state districts and residents to report any bakery that is closed.

[This is yet another example of the Khartoum regime not addressing a critical economic issue, but “shooting the messenger” who carries information about catastrophic results of this neglect: the bakeries are the “messenger,” and the closings are dictate by the high prices and shortages of flour, a direct result of regime policies—ER]

Medicine prices

Meanwhile the Sudanese Communist Party has warned of a health disaster in Sudan because of the rise of medicine prices and the state’s low spending on the health sector in the 2018 budget. The party called upon Sudanese people to object to the government policies “that lead to the further deterioration of the health sector.”

A pharmaceutical expert said that the next half-year will see the absence of new medicines in Sudan coupled with an emergence of fake medicines on the market. Khalid Wadelnur also said that there are approximately 400 companies and institutions in the country that sell medicines imported from abroad, instead of pharmaceutical companies which have been unable to import them.

Parliament expects an “impending disaster in the pharmaceutical sector” and announced that foreign companies have stopped supplying medical supplies and lifesaving and chronic disease medicines because of the accumulation of debts.

[This is also soon to be a source of growing civil society outrage, as members of the regime and its cronies continue to enjoy full access to any and all pharmaceuticals—ER]

 

 

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