Without meaningful change Sudan will descend into chaos

14 Feb 2018

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir gestures during a press conference at the palace in Khartoum, Sudan [Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters]. Link to image.
Sudan’s political crisis has reached its worst since the coup led by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in June 1989. The collapsing economy, ongoing armed conflicts between the regime and armed movements in the Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, endemic corruption, and the power struggle within the regime have pushed the country towards a tipping point.

Coupled with current popular protests over the 2018 austerity budget that are gathering momentum across Sudan, these factors create the conditions that will result in one of two scenarios in Sudan: either swift and meaningful change, or descent into chaos and disintegration. Without meaningful domestic, regional and international efforts to facilitate a credible, all-inclusive conference that leads to a fresh political transition, Sudan will be reduced to the latter.

Collapsing economy and a catastrophic budget 

Anti-austerity popular protests erupted when the government announced the 2018 budget last month. Economists and financial experts have described the new budget as a “catastrophic” measure that allots 75 percent of the country’s funds to the regime’s security apparatus and militias.

These experts are not wrong. The new budget has made the lives of average Sudanese citizens unbearable. The prices of basic needs and commodities, including bread, medicine, fuel, and electricity have reached an unprecedented level. The Sudanese currency is losing its value daily – one US dollar, while officially worth 18 Sudanese pounds, is now selling for 42 Sudanese pounds on the black market.

To top this all off, the Central Bank of Sudan is issuing new regulations in a rapid-fire manner. Rather than addressing the collective collapse of the Sudanese commercial markets, national currency and banking system, the government’s only response has been printing more money.

Sudan’s former finance minister, Abdel Rahim Hamdi, has commented that the government is losing control of the economy and should let the market determine the price of the pound, which would, in turn, encourage foreign investment and reinvigorate the economy.

New wave of popular protests met heavy crackdown

On 16 January, the Sudanese Communist Party led a peaceful demonstration in Khartoum after authorities rejected their request to mobilise and submit a memorandum on the new budget. The protest was joined by Sudan’s main opposition groups, youth activists and average citizens.

Since then, other popular protests have mobilised, and not only in Khartoum but also in other cities and regions of Sudan, such as El Obeid, Nyala, Wad Madani and Port Sudan. Mainstream opposition leaders who were criticised for declining to participate in the 2013 protests now say they plan to sustain this momentum until the masses are large enough to defeat this regime.

Unsurprisingly, the regime and security forces have cracked down on both demonstrators and opposition leaders. So far, five civilians have been killed during peaceful protests (a student in Nyala city and four internally displaced residents of the Hasahisa camp in central Darfur), and more than 20 injured.

Dozens of protesters, opposition leaders and journalists, including Mohamed Mukhtar al-Khatib, secretary-general of the Sudanese Communist Party, were arrested by Sudanese security forces on the first day of protests. That list has grown to include journalist Amal Habbani, AFP reporter Abdulmoniem Abu Idriss, deputy leader of the Umma Party Sara Nagdallah and Darfur Bar Association Secretary-General Mohamed Abdallah el-Doma.

During the September 2013 revolt, more than 200 peaceful demonstrators were killed, and there are fears that the regime could resort to a similar brutal crackdown to ensure its survival and stop citizens from mobilising.

Divisions and power struggles within the regime 

Political tensions are not limited to the popular protests in Sudan. There is a known riftbetween Bashir and his long-time confidant, first vice president and prime minister, General Bakri Hassan Saleh, and it continues to widen. Saleh has been rumoured to be the US and some Gulf countries’ favoured replacement for Bashir.

Last month, many Sudanese newspapers reported that Ibrahim Ghandour, the foreign minister, had presented his resignation to Bashir, complaining about interference in his ministerial portfolio. However, he withdrew his resignation after reported interventions of some leading figures in the government.

Ongoing power struggles within the government also encouraged parts of the regime’s old guard to re-enter the political game from different directions. Former Vice President Ali Osman Taha is angling to help Bashir win the 2020 elections, while the founder of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and Bashir’s former senior assistant, Nafie Ali Nafie, is forming alliances with Saleh to prevent Bashir (and Taha) from returning to power in 2020.

Hence, in his attempt to prepare the ground for his re-election in 2020, on February 11, 2018, Bashir has re-appointed one of the controversial, divisive and ambitious members of the regime’s old guard, General Salah Abdallah (also known as Gosh), as director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). He is a strong supporter of Bashir’s re-election in 2020.

Gosh was removed from his post as NISS’s director in 2009, and in 2012 he was detained alongside 13 other officers for allegedly plotting a coup against the regime. Nevertheless, he was abruptly released in 2013. In 2006, Gosh was listed by the UN Panel of Experts on Darfur as one of the 17 people responsible for the heinous crimes committed in Darfur. Gosh is also widely perceived as the architect of the collaboration between NISS and the CIA, especially during the period of Bush administration, since the early 2000s.

Who can save Sudan?

Unfortunately, and in typical fashion, regional and international responses to the current heavy crackdown and mass arrest of peaceful demonstrators have been slow and cautious.

Bashir’s regime has failed to implement even the reforms it committed to in its own national dialogue – journalists continue to be targeted and Bashir’s militias, such as his “personal army”, or the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), continue to operate with impunity.

To date, the regime still has no solution to the collapsing economy and austerity budget that are placing an intolerable burden on the Sudanese people. It is evident that Bashir’s top priority is to hang on to power at all cost. The Sudanese army, which was once regarded as a unifier of the Sudanese people, can no longer be counted on as guarantor of peace and stability.

Sudan cannot survive like this until the 2020 elections. Bashir’s regime will continue to use the army and militias for his own survival. Bashir will also likely exploit the RSF’s participation in the Yemen war by asking the Saudis and Emiratis to save his economy. Neither of these tactics offers a permanent solution to Sudan’s problems.

Peace talks between the Sudanese government and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM/N) facilitated by the African Union High-Level Panel of Implementation (AUHIP) in Addis Ababa earlier this month failed to reach any deal on a cessation of hostilities or humanitarian access to the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and were neither inclusive nor comprehensive.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur, yet, under the Obama administration, the US welcomed rapprochement with Sudan to collaborate on counterterrorism and migration. Under the Trump administration, the US has removed 20-year-old sanctions on Sudan to continue the rapprochement policy initiated by Obama.

In short, despite the gravity of the situation, the international community lacks a unified, coherent and practical strategy to put Sudan on a more stable political and economic path. Economists such as Professor Hamid El-Tigani Ali of the American University in Cairo believe the Sudanese economy will completely collapse within a few months if there is no urgent plan to save it.

Over the next few months, popular protests will continue, particularly with opposition and youth activists gaining more confidence in the power of mobilisation. But despite Sudanese demands for reform, disorderly change would have a serious impact on citizens and the economy, as well as on regional and international peace and security. The only successful Sudanese scenario would include swift, inclusive and meaningful democratic transition with clear benchmarks.

Key regional and international players must swiftly push for the appointment of a credible and capable international envoy with a clear mandate to facilitate an all-inclusive national conference. There is no other way for Sudan to avoid chaos and disintegration.

The international community should stop shying away from its moral and legal obligations; they must pressure the Sudanese government to release all political detainees and guarantee fundamental freedoms, as well as insist that the Sudanese government comply with international human rights laws in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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Sudan, S. Sudan resume cross-border trade after 7 years

Cross-border commercial traffic was suspended after South Sudan declared independence in 2011

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KHARTOUM

Sudanese Trade Minister Hatem al-Sar on Wednesday announced the resumption of cross-border commercial traffic with South Sudan following a seven-year hiatus.

According to local media reports, the two countries have now resumed full border services in Sudan’s White Nile Province and South Sudan’s Upper Nile region.

Al-Sar told reporters in Khartoum that the decision to reopen the border to commercial traffic had been ordered directly by President Omar al-Bashir.

“The resumption of legal cross-border commerce will strike a blow against smuggling,” the trade minister said, adding that Sudan was “open to dialogue with all its neighbors”.

Cross-border trade had remained suspended since South Sudan declared independence from its northern neighbor following a popular referendum in 2011.

Despite ongoing differences between the two countries, Khartoum and Abuja signed a wide-ranging cooperation protocol — governing the transport, commerce, security and oil sectors — in 2013.

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Sudanese authorities demolish Evangelical church in Khartoum suburb

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February 13, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese authorities Sunday demolished a Presbyterian Evangelical Church in Khartoum suburb of Hajj Yousef, said a statement by a Sudanese group of faith.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the International Solidarity Campaign with Sudanese Christians (ISCSC) denounced the demolition saying it is part of “a series of systematic violations of religious freedoms and targeting of Christians in Sudan”.

The group said the police trucks arrived after the church service and demolished the building of the church which is established in 1989 and confiscated all the books, equipment and chairs found inside the church.

“No prior notice had been given and a court case is ongoing contesting the scheduled demolition of this church, first announced in 2016,” said the group.

The Sudanese authorities say the removal of a number of churches in Khartoum state comes as a result of the violated zoning regulations also they say they are not officially recognised as churches.

This is the first demolition of a church since the removal of economic sanctions on Sudan in October 2017.

The Sudanese government at the time stopped the demolition of a number of churches considered as illegal by the state authorities.

Faith activists say the Hajj Yousef church was the first on a list of 25 churches that Khartoum state plan to demolish.

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Egypt, Sudan agree on measures to restore relations

FRIDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2018

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February 9, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan and Egypt have agreed on a package of measures to be implemented over the next few months to addressing outstanding issues and restore confidence between the two neighbouring countries.

The foreign ministers of the two countries, Ibrahim Ghandour and Sameh Shoukry held a meeting on Sunday in Cairo with the participation of the head of intelligence services Abbas Kamel of Egypt and Sudan’s Mohamed Atta to discuss tensions between the two countries after Khartoum’s decision to recall its ambassador on 5 January.

The government-controlled media in Egypt carried out an unprecedented hostile media campaign against Sudan and its president Omer al-Bashir after a visit to Sudan of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Also, in January Sudan accused Egypt and Eritrea of backing armed opposition groups.

In a joint statement issued after the tripartite meeting, the two countries announced a number of technical decisions to restore bilateral relations including the ban of hostile media campaigns and to enhance security and military cooperation between the two countries.

On the dispute over the Nile water, the statement referred to the commitment of both sides to the 1959 bilateral agreement and tripartite declaration of principle on the resolution of the dispute over the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in signed in Khartoum on 23 March 2015.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Shoukry said the meeting contributed to remove misunderstandings and to develop a roadmap to restore the relationship in line with the aspirations and guidance of the two countries’ leaders.

He called on the Egyptian and Sudanese media to be objective and not to offend the peoples and leaders of the two countries.

For his part, Ghandour announced that the meeting set up a mechanism to solve on the outstanding issues, also he said the media in the two countries has to observe the sanctity of relations between the two countries in the future.

When asked about an agreement to establish a Turkish naval base in Suakin on the Red Sea Ghandour said there were no foreigners in the small town pointing there are 400 houses inhabited by Sudanese nationals.

Also, “there was no talk about a Turkish military base in the city or elsewhere in any place in Sudan, but the Turkish President offered to restore and rebuild old houses and to use (Suakin) as a tourist island for mutual benefit,” he disclosed.

on the Ethiopian dam, Ghandour said it was agreed to hold a meeting including nine ministers of Irrigation, foreign affairs and intelligence from the three countries in Khartoum next March.

Cairo meeting was decided last month after an encounter between President Omer al-Bashir and Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi in Addis Ababa on 28 January.

Observers say the bilateral relations are undermined by the mistrust between the two government as Cairo believes that Khartoum supports the Egyptian Islamists overthrown by al-Sisi in 2013.

This lack of confidence complicates the solution of the dispute over border triangle of Halayeb and also pushed Sudan to foster its strategic alliance with Ethiopia.

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Economic collapse in Sudan is rapidly accelerating

By Eric Reeves

The Central Bank of Sudan, which has only a very small amount of foreign exchanged currency (Forex), is reported today to have banned any non-governmental agent or business from using its own Forex for imports of any kind. One way or another, in other words, the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime is determined to arrogate to itself all Forex (also known as “hard currency,” currency not subject to the massive inflation rates presently ravaging Sudan).

This will be “disastrous”: it means that even food (i.e., flour for bread) and medicines cannot be imported, commodities desperately needed by the people of Sudan. It also means even greater inflation for the price of bread, the staple food for many Sudanese families. Having already suffered a 300% increase in the price of bread with the promulgation of the 2018 budget in late December 2017—and another 25% increase this past weekend—prices are set to skyrocket even further upwards. The ban on use of private Forex to import even the most critical medicines will certainly cost lives, and put many medicine beyond the financial reach of millions of Sudanese.

The rapacious effort to deny the use of Forex for imports reflects a desperate attempt by the regime to halt the precipitous slide in the value of the Sudanese Pound, which continues to lose value at an extremely rapid rate because it is not back by hard currency. Black market trading in the U.S. dollar, the benchmark hard currency, reveals that there is no bottom to the decline.

Professor Hamid Eltigani, the head of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University (Cairo) is reported to have declared (fully accurately) that “economic measures that will have disastrous consequences in a matter of days…these measures by the government will force the flight of investors, exporters, importers, and halt trade.”

The lifting of U.S. sanctions, hailed by so many foolish observers, has simply proved to be the starting point for utter disaster in the Sudanese economy. The root issue was never sanctions, but decades of gross economic mismanagement and equally gross self-enrichment by the NIF/NCP regime—a fact that the international community simply refused to acknowledge. The most spectacular example remains that of Edward Gemayel, speaking in 2013 as the IMF’s Mission Chief for Sudan:

“Mr. Edward Gemayel, the IMF’s Mission Chief for Sudan noted that ’Sudan has a long track record of implementing sustainable economic policies.’”(IMF press release, October 12, 2013)

This was cynical mendacity on the part of Gemayel, but had no effect on his career and gave cover to those who wished to ignore the policies we see culminating in the present catastrophe. But this looming catastrophe was there for all to see at the very time Gemayel was serving as dissimulator-in-chief for the Khartoum regime. See |

“Watching the Bubble Burst: Political Implications of Sudan’s Economic Implosion,” Eric Reeves for the Enough Project Forum, 17 September 2014 | http://www.enoughproject.org/reports/enough-forum-watching-bubble-burst

“Kleptocracy in Khartoum: Self-Enrichment by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party,” Eric Reeves for the Enough Project Forum, December 2, 2015 | https://enoughproject.org/blog/enough-forum-release-kleptocracy-khartoum

It was simply not in the perceived self-interest of various international actors to acknowledge the scale and consequence of Khartoum’s immensely destructive economic policies or the extent of the kleptocracy that lies at the very heart of the regime, and generates most of its “political support.”

Now the people of Sudan will suffer terribly, one way or another, as a consequence of this self-serving myopia. Further demonstrations and popular protests are inevitable—but so, too, is violent repression by the regime and its ruthless security forces. Newspapers will continue to suffer extreme censorship, especially when it comes to the topics of the economic crisis or protests; demonstrations will be met with increasing violence—excessive and indiscriminate use of tear gas; beatings; incarceration and torture (especially of political leaders and activists); and ultimately, if génocidaire-in-chief Omar al-Bashir determines it necessary for his survival, the use of live ammunition accompanied by “shoot to kill” orders, as was the case in September 2013.

Will the army continue to be quiescent in the face of the slaughtering of Sudanese civilians? There were signs in September 2013 that many in the army were appalled, and at least one major left the army in protest. The National Intelligence and Security Services, Military Intelligence, and other intelligence organizations will undoubtedly stay loyal to al-Bashir and his cronies: their lives and livelihoods depend upon it. But the army will survive regime change as an institution if one thoroughly corrupted by 29 years of purges and re-shaping by the NIF/NCP regime. Its mid-level officers—especially colonels and majors—may well decide that the only way to regain any favour among the people of Sudan is to support them if they again face “shoot to kill” orders issued to the police and security services.

But in the short term, only increasing hardship and violence loom for the people of Sudan—hardship and violence that the international community ignores and refuses to address in its variously self-interested relations with the Khartoum regime.

Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

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U.S. imposes arms embargo on S. Sudan

3:38 am, February 04, 2018

The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is imposing a U.S. arms embargo on civil war-torn South Sudan while urging the United Nations and other countries to do the same.

The State Department said Friday the United States is restricting all sales of defense equipment and services to all parties to South Sudan’s conflict, saying it is “appalled” by the continuing violence that has defied a ceasefire. It’s mostly symbolic since the United States has almost no defense trade with the East African country in the first place.

The United States is also calling on South Sudan’s neighbors to implement similar arms restrictions and urging the U.N. Security Council to support a global embargo on the country. “The message must be clear — the United States, the region and the international community will not stand idly by as innocent South Sudanese civilians are murdered,” the statement said.

Late last month, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley announced that the United States had given up on South Sudan’s leader after investing more than $11 billion in the country, and she called President Salva Kiir an “unfit partner” in the pursuit of peace.

Untold tens of thousands of people have been killed in the civil war that erupted in December 2013 after tensions between supporters of Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his deputy Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer. Machar is now in exile. The United Nations and others have warned of ethnic violence, the recruitment of thousands of child soldiers and the widespread use of rape as a weapon of war.

The number of South Sudanese refugees could reach 3 million by the end of this year, Africa’s largest refugee crisis since Rwanda’s genocide in 1994, the United Nations said Thursday.

The United States in the last days of the Obama administration tried and failed to have the U.N. Security Council impose an arms embargo on South Sudan.

Haley has urged the council to impose an embargo, but Russia and China remain opposed.

The world’s youngest country won independence from Sudan in 2011, and later that year the United States clarified that its arms embargo on Sudan didn’t apply to the new nation.

Frustration with South Sudan’s government and rebels has been rising. The latest ceasefire, which went into effect Dec. 24, was violated within hours.

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Fire destroys nearly 70 homes in South Darfur camp

Published on 04 Feb 2018

Major fires that broke out in Otash camp for the displaced near Nyala, capital of South Darfur, last week, completely destroyed 67 homes and 47 stalls.

A camp sheikh reported to Radio Dabanga that the first fire broke out at the camp’s market at about 9 pm on Wednesday. “47 market stalls and sun shades were destroyed. Owners of cafes and small restaurants, butchers, and leather workers were the hardest hit.”

On Thursday evening, another large fire developed in the camp.

“In addition to the 67 homes that burned down, we had to dismantle 54 other homes to stop the fire from spreading further,” the community leader said. “If we had not reacted quickly, the flames would have destroyed the entire camp.”

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Sudan devalues pound to 30 against US dollar

2018-02-05 06:04

Khartoum – Sudan’s central bank on Sunday announced it will devalue the local currency to 30 Sudanese pounds against the US dollar, the second such move in weeks amid soaring inflation.

The new official exchange rate will go into effect on Monday, the central bank said on its website.

The Sudanese pound has been trading at an official rate of 18 to the dollar but on the black market it has hit an all-time low and was selling for between 40 and 43 to the dollar on Sunday.

The new devaluation would be the second within weeks and the weakening of the pound has contributed to surging inflation, which currently is at 34 percent.

 The central bank called on commercial banks for better coordination in order to put the foreign currency in “good use to help import essential items”.

 

Trading on the foreign exchange market has been very volatile since October 12 when Washington lifted its 20-year-old trade embargo imposed on Khartoum.

Authorities have even arrested dozens of black market traders in a bid to curb the speculation.

The pound had been expected to strengthen against the greenback after the embargo was lifted, but it has only slipped since then.

Despite the lifting of the restrictions, banks across the world remain wary of working with Khartoum, officials say.

Although Washington lifted the embargo it has still kept Sudan on its list of “state sponsors of terrorism,” a factor which officials say keeps investors away from the east African country.

Sudan’s economy is already suffering from the loss of three-quarters of its oil resources when South Sudan gained independence in 2011.

Sporadic anti-government protests

In 2016, the World Bank had urged Sudan to adopt swift structural reforms to revive its ailing economy.

The World Bank had even said that removing exchange restrictions to unify official and black-market exchange rates of the Sudanese pound against the US dollar could help revive Sudan’s sluggish economy.

Sudan’s average gross domestic product growth between 1998 and 2008 was above six percent, after which it steadily declined to around three percent in recent years.

Previous efforts at economic reform have proven controversial.

An attempt in September 2013 to cut fuel subsidies led to bloody confrontations between anti-austerity protesters and security forces that left dozens dead in Khartoum.

Since January Sudan is witnessing sporadic anti-government protests again after a sharp rise in food prices.

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Sudan: Demos against skyrocketing prices continue

January 21 – 2018 KHARTOUM / RABAK

Protests in Omdurman against the price hikes, Jan. 17, 2018 (RD). Link to article.

On Friday, demonstrations against the huge price hikes continued in the Sudanese capital for the fourth day in a row. Protests were also reported in Rabak, the capital of White Nile State.

Worshippers leaving Friday afternoon, El Ansar [followers of Imam El Sadig El Mahdi] Mosque in Omdurman’s Wad Nubawi district, staged a protest against the continuing increase in prices of consumer goods.

Carrying the flag of Sudan, they chanted “No, no to the price increases”.

Multiple sources told Radio Dabanga that the government forces used excessive force to halt the protesters. “They stormed the mosque and threw lots of tear gas in and around the mosque,” one of them related.

“They surrounded the area around the mosque with their vehicles, and used live bullets, tear gas, and batons to prevent the demonstrators from reaching the main roads. However the people used the alleys in the neighbourhood to reach the roads and continued demonstrating until they were violently dispersed again.”

According to El Sadig Adam Ismail, member of the Political Bureau of the National Umma Party (NUP), the party’s Secretary-General Dr Sara Nugdallah, and other NUP leaders, among them Mohamed Abdallah El Doma and Ibrahim El Amin, Communist Party of Sudan leaders Mohamed Mukhtar El Khateeb and Siddig Yousef, and many other politicians, activists, journalists, and students are still being held.

Rabah El Mahdi, daughter of NUP president El Sadig El Mahdi, strongly condemned the storming of the mosque, and the “extremely violent arrest” of Khaled Saadouk inside the building. Another activist was detained as well because she filmed the violence with her mobile, she said.

Security troops and riot police also dispersed anti-price-hike protesters in Burri district in eastern Khartoum and in Rabak in White Nile State on Friday afternoon.

In Atbara in Nile River State, agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service detained Fathi El Hadi, a member of the Communist Party, at one of the petrol stations in the town on Friday, while he was calling on the residents of the town to protest the fuel crisis and the price hikes.

Customs rate

In early January, the Sudanese markets were hit by the consequences of financial measures taken by the government based on the 2018 National Budget.

In addition to increased levies and taxes imposed on traders and citizens, the customs rate of the Dollar was raised from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18.

The prices of the main consumer goods immediately doubled or even tripled. As the government completely cut its wheat subsidies, the price of flour increased with 233 per cent. Bakeries began to sell smaller loafes of bread for double the price.

Protests

Since then, people in various parts of the country took to the streets almost every day to protest the austerity measures. The 2018 Budget has been criticised as well for allocating the majority of funds to security, defence and presidential expenditures.

On Tuesday, the Communist Party organised a mass rally in Khartoum, against the new austerity measures.

Dozens of journalists, senior leaders of political parties, members of civil society organisations, employees, workers, youth, and students participated in the march in an unprecedented scene in which police and security forces used excessive force. Many protesters, among them prominent party leaders, were detained.

The following day, a protest vigil called for by the NUP and entitled ‘Salvation of the Homeland’ went ahead in Omdurman in spite of attempts by the security apparatus to prevent it.

A declaration, read out on behalf of the opposition forces, at a press conference at the NUP headquarters on Wednesday called for removal of the regime headed by Omar Al Bashir, the formation of a transitional government, and a just and comprehensive peace agreement that eliminates the causes of the conflicts in the country.

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U.S. denounce arbitrary detention of Sudanese journalists

SUNDAY 21 JANUARY 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January 20, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – The United States has condemned Sudan’s arbitrary detention of a number of journalists during the ongoing wave of anti-austerity protests.

The National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested 15 journalists for covering two protests on 16 and 17 January in Khartoum and Omdurman towns.

They arbitrary arrest was seen as an attempt form the security apparatus to dissuade the independent local media and international correspondents from covering protests organised by the opposition parties and advertise their activities.

“We are aware of the detentions and are closely following the reports,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Friday

“We condemn the harassment, arbitrary detention and attacks on journalists in Sudan who are doing their jobs and exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression” she added

Nauert further expressed deep concern “about freedom of expression, including for members of the media, the closing of political space for all Sudanese, and Sudan’s poor overall human rights record”.

“We continue to press Sudan to improve its performance in these areas, and to ensure that those detained are treated humanely and fairly… and that they are allowed access to legal counsel and their families” she added

According to the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RWB) on Friday, eight journalists are still in arrest citing Reuters reporter Khalid Abdel Aziz and AFP reporter Abdel Moneim Abu Idriss in addition to Shawky Abdelazim, journalist at the independent daily Al-Youm Al-Tali, Imtinan El Radi, a reporter for the same newspaper, and Hayder Ahmed Khair Alla of the daily Al-Jareeda.

Also, among the detainees Amal Habani, a female reporter for Al-Taghyeer news website. She was awarded an Amnesty International prize for her human rights work in Sudan.

Last October, Washington removed economic sanctions on Sudan within a five-track engagement reached in December 2016, including the cessation of hostilities in the conflict areas, the humanitarian access to civilians in the war zones, cooperation to address regional conflicts and the support of U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

The framework, also, includes three matters added in July last year including human rights record, religious freedoms and Sudan’s commitment to the international sanctions on North Korea which tops Washington diplomatic priorities.

The lift of sanctions should be followed by talks on the lift of remaining sanctions, the end of armed conflicts and democratic reforms in Sudan.

Washington said it would use the removal of remaining sanctions to encourage the government of President Omer al-Bashir to achieve peace and restore freedoms.

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