Sudanese Stage Deadly Mass Protests In Khartoum Over Hiked Fuel Prices

Sudanese Stage Deadly Mass Protests In Khartoum Over Hiked Fuel Prices

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By Spy Uganda Correspondent 

People in Sudan’s cities have taken the struggle to the streets to protest after the ministry of energy on Tuesday doubled the price of fuel to help reduce a budget deficit.  The price of fuel in Sudan has jumped four times in two years and helped spark mass protests that in 2019 led to the ouster of former president Omar al-Bashir.

The Islamist movement called for street protests to overthrow the transitional government and to hold it accountable for what it described as “making living conditions more difficult through harsh and brutal economic policies.”

Barricades have emerged across main streets in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities to prevent the organization of mass demonstrations led by many political forces that reject the government’s decision to lift fuel subsidies that came into effect on Thursday.

The economic situation now seems much more difficult than it was under the previous regime. Greater political and security tolerance also makes possible the organization of mass protests that could push the government to reverse the fuel price hike or even force it to resign. In both cases, the exacerbation of tensions would serve the interests of counter-revolutionary forces, including Bashir’s Islamist remnants.

The leader of the Forces for Freedom and Change, Munther Abu Al-Maali, downplayed the possibility of Bashir’s supporters exploiting the street protests against the government’s economic policies. He argued that the experience of the past two years shows that street protests are fuelled by revolutionary goals and not by the remnants of the old regime who have been removed from the structure of the protest movement to which it is difficult for them to return.

Abu al-Maali told the press that the demands of the demonstrators before the end of Bashir’s rule were focused on the fall of the regime in the hope of achieving freedom, dignity, and social justice. Demands have now changed and focus on completing the revolutionary process even if it means the dismissal of the government and the appointment of another cabinet.

The economic conditions in Sudan have deteriorated in the recent past. This has led to great hardship for a large part of the population and political forces believe that taking to the street is the only way to stop  what they  describe as “economic absurdities.”

This week, as part of economic reforms and measures with which the government is trying to correct the country’s economic imbalances, the ministry of energy and oil announced a complete liberalization of the prices of all types of fuel sold in the local market, which meant a spike of about 100 percent in prices.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Jibril Ibrahim explained that the government has stopped interfering with gas and petrol subsidies.

“The government has no choice but to reform the economy,” he said, “and if it falls, another government will come after it which has no choice but to proceed with the same reforms.”

Economist Sidqi Kablu said the transitional authority had not “immunized” the poor classes against political exploitation by the remnants of Bashir’s rule, especially since the aid program intended to help poor families is not reaching its supposed beneficiaries, as the government itself admits.

Kablu explained that the effects of the decision to lift fuel subsidies disproportionately affect urban residents through the doubling of public transportation fares within cities. Moreover, urban populations have the ability to politically influence government decisions.

In a statement, Kablu, who is one of the prominent leaders of the Communist Party stressed that the government is in a tough spot because the demands of the street are escalating and evolving. After focusing in the past on issues of justice and retribution,  protesters are increasingly calling for the dismissal of the government which now has to look for other options than “mortgaging the fate of Sudan to Western powers that control economic policies”.

He added that what leads to the rise in anger against the government is that it has neglected to develop a plan to upgrade national projects and increase sources of national wealth, while it quickly fulfilled the demands of international economic institutions.

The government’s decision to liberalize fuel prices has unified disparate political forces all calling for its reversal. Meanwhile, the political backers of the government have failed to defend the decision because there is disagreement on the government’s economic policies among the majority of the forces that belong to the Freedom and Change Alliance.

Observers believe that fulfilling the demands of the political forces will not be easy, as the government is bound by its pledges to international institutions that provide support to the transitional authority in exchange for implementing the agreed-upon reforms,

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