Sudan's economic and political crisis has led to much unrest and many strikes and protests but it is also having another, very problematic effect: increased crime and insecurity. Kidnappings, looting, and theft are becoming increasingly common in Khartoum and some seem to believe that the authorities deliberately allow and even encourage the chaos to distract from their failed policies and intimidate revolutionaries.
Sudan is witnessing an unprecedented economic and political crisis following a few politically turbulent years that witnessed a revolution that brought an end to Omar Al Basir's 30-years-long dictatorial regime, two military coups, and ongoing revolutionary pro-democracy protests.
International isolation, the suspension of aid, failed policies, financial mismanagement, sanctions, and the ongoing political turbulence have caused the Sudanese Pound to plummet and Sudan's export market to collapse. Basic goods have become unaffordable to many Sudanese and transport and health care have become increasingly difficult to access.
During the civilian-led government of Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, Sudan seemed to be working towards international economic integration and managed to secure billions of US dollars worth of international aid. However, when the military took power in a coup on October 25 last year, this aid was cut off and Sudan plunged back into isolation.
Nearly a year later, Sudan is witnessing an unprecedented number of strikes and economic protests. Last month, politician, activist, and economic expert Sidgi Kaballo recently warned of a ‘revolution of the hungry’ if the root causes of the economic problems are not addressed. These protests come on top of the ongoing mass pro-democracy protests.
Armed groups with machetes and sticks have reportedly raised terror in neighbourhoods in Khartoum North (Bahri) over the past two days, beating those who happen to pass by and robbing them. They have also robbed shops. Eyewitnesses told Online news outlet Medameek News that the events began yesterday as armed groups stormed Ahmed Qassem Square and opened fire and beat several people before moving on robbing and looting.
Today, these groups were more numerous and violent, Medameek News reported.
Witnesses also reported similar unrest near the popular market in Khartoum and the area of El Diyoum El Shargiya. Apparently, the police responded by firing tear gas to disperse civilians but did not pursue any of the perpetrators.
Police inaction is common in Khartoum and activists on social media accused security forces of not carrying out their duties in the fight against crime. The attacks In Khartoum North took place a kilometer or less from the Bahri Police Station, and roughly 500 meters from intelligence services "whose role seems to be limited to pursuing the revolutionaries and monitoring their movements during and after protests", Medameek News writes.
The military junta is facing accusations that it is exploiting these events to maintain control after failing to curb political unrest in the country or gain popular support.
Medameek News reported that "some experts believe that the security chaos in the capital is a creation of the coup authorities to spread chaos and intimidate the streets that reject the coup" to spread the sentiment that nothing new will come from continuing resistance "except for insecurity and instability".
The chaos distracts also from "failed policies pursued by the coup authorities", Medameek writes.