HomeNewsSudanese protest over cuts amid security crackdown

Sudanese protest over cuts amid security crackdown

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KHARTOUM – Hundreds of Sudanese joined anti-government demonstrations in Khartoum on Saturday, witnesses and activists said, pushing protests against tough spending cuts into a second week despite a security crackdown.

Fuelled by unpopular austerity measures, demonstrations spread throughout the capital a day earlier and expanded beyond the core of student activists who have dominated it so far.

Activists have sought to use anger over a worsening economic crisis to spark an “Arab Spring”-style uprising against the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Security forces have responded by using teargas and batons to break up the demonstrations, which have broken out in a variety of Khartoum’s neighbourhoods but have not exceeded more than a few hundred people at any one time.

On Saturday, the smell of teargas hung in the air and smoke rose from burning tyres amid a heavy security presence in the neighbourhood of Al-Daim, which had also been the site of protests a day earlier.

A Reuters correspondent saw around 300 to 400 demonstrators, but it was difficult to get a precise count because the protesters were dispersed in small groups throughout different streets.

Activists also reported that protests broke out in at least four other neighbourhoods of Khartoum on Saturday, but it was not immediately possible to verify the reports independently.

The police were not immediately available to comment. In a rare acknowledgement of the protests on Friday, the police said they had dispersed “limited” demonstrations that did not exceed 150 people.

Sudan avoided the wave of unrest that toppled strongmen in neighbouring Egypt and Libya last year, but tough spending cuts announced this week unleashed a spate of demonstrations.

The measures are aimed at coping with an economic crisis rooted largely in the secession of South Sudan a year ago. The new nation took about three-quarters of the country’s oil output – previously Sudan’s dominant source of state revenues, exports and hard currency.

That left Sudan with a budget deficit of about $2.4 billion, a weakening currency and high inflation for food and other goods, many of which are imported.

The two countries were supposed to work out a deal whereby the landlocked South would pay Sudan fees to export crude via pipelines and other facilities on its territory, but they have so far failed to reach an agreement.

South Sudan shut down its crude output in January after Khartoum started taking some oil. African Union-brokered talks in Addis Ababa have yet to produce a deal.

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