Sudan downplays protest movement
Sudanese Minister of Finance said Monday that the government would not reconsider its decision to phase out fuel subsidies. This decision triggered a wave of protests in Sudan which is already hit by high inflation.
Anti-regime demonstrations have grown after the announcement on June 18 by President Omar al-Bashir to carry out a series of austerity measures. "We will not reconsider our decision to remove subsidies, whatever happens," said Minister Mahmoud al-Rasul Ali at a press conference. "If the oil price increases on international markets, we will raise it in Sudan," he stressed.
The price of gasoline at the pump station has roughly doubled since last week because of the government decision. Inflation had already reached 30.4% in May alone, according to official figures.
Sudan, almost bankrupt, has lost billions of dollars in oil revenues after the secession in July 2011 of South Sudan, which boasts three quarters of the oil reserves of the old country. Sudan's oil revenues, already reduced since the independence of the South, have plunged by more than 20% after fighting between the two countries had damaged the infrastructure of its main oil field Heglig in April, according to international experts.
Protests against rising prices and against the regime continued Monday for the 10th consecutive day. At Gedaref, some 200 people demonstrated on at the market square, before being dispersed by riot police who used tear gas to batons, witnesses said. The demonstrators again gathered and burned the offices of the ruling party near the market, they added.
President Bashir, in power for 23 years, had downplayed Sunday evening the protest movement, ensuring that the multitude of small events - every time violently suppressed - did not constitute a new stage of the Arab Spring.