Protests in Sudan border state over worsening economy

Protests in Sudan border state over worsening economy
2 min read
05 February, 2021
Protests erupted in eastern Sudan over the rising cost of living.
Sudanese protest against rising prices in the capital Khartoum on January 24, 2021 [AFP]

Demonstrations have flared in Sudan's eastern state of Gedaref over the rising cost of living, some involving incidents of looting and robberies, authorities and an activist group said.

The protests first broke out in Gedaref's main market, where demonstrators broke into shops and blocked streets, according to a government statement late Wednesday.

Images shared on social media on Thursday showed burnt car tyres and dozens of angry protesters breaking objects and storming shops.

AFP could not immediately verify the authenticity of the images. 

On Wednesday, the state of Gedaref said "riots" had begun after public transportation drivers unofficially raised ticket prices.

"Roads were blocked and acts of violence and sabotage were committed," it said in a statement. 

On Thursday, a local group dubbing itself the "Gedaref resistance committees" issued a statement on Facebook blaming the "looting and robberies" on supporters of ousted president Omar Al-Bashir. 

Bashir was toppled by the army in April 2019 following months of mass protests against his rule, initially sparked by a hike in bread prices.

Sudan has since been in the throes of a rocky political transition on top of a severe economic crisis further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gedaref, a key agricultural state in Sudan that has been long viewed as the country's breadbasket, also sits on the border with the Ethiopian region of Tigray

Officials say the state's resources have been further strained by a mass influx of refugees fleeing the conflict there since November.

Across Sudan, galloping inflation and chronic hard currency shortages have given rise to a volatile black market.

The US dollar officially trades at around 55 Sudanese pounds, but in the parallel market it can be above 300 Sudanese pounds.

Inflation hit 269 percent in December, sapping the purchasing power of ordinary Sudanese.

A joint civilian-military government has been struggling to rebuild an economy decimated by decades of US sanctions, official mismanagement and armed conflicts.

Last month, the government approved a budget for the current fiscal year, hoping to bring down inflation and to develop marginalised regions.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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