Two more opposition party leaders and three students have been detained on Monday, in an attempt by the Sudanese authorities to quell ‘bread protests’ in the country.
The government decided to raise the customs rate of the Dollar from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18 in end December, with the purpose to halt the steadily increasing hard currency rate at the black market. After the measure came into effect in the first week of January, the already soaring prices of the main consumer goods doubled or even tripled. The price for a piece of bread increased from SDG 0,50 to SDG 1 ($0.14*).
On Sunday, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) ordered the Sudanese press not to cover the price hikes, and halted the distribution of six newspapers that commented on the situation. On Monday, the print-runs of two other newspapers were confiscated.
Small-scale protests erupted in various parts of the country since Friday. Security forces violently dispersed the demonstrations. On Sunday, a secondary school student was killed In El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, when government forces opened fire on a group of demonstrators.
Many opposition parties are calling for a nationwide uprising against the deteriorating living conditions.
In response, a number of leading members of the activist Sudanese Congress Party (SCP), including the chairman, were detained over the weekend.
NISS agents held Baath Party member Adil Khalafallah and activist Ahmed Zuheir in Khartoum on Monday. Mohyeldin El Jallad, a prominent member of the Communist Party of Sudan was detained on Monday evening. The head of the SCP-Sennar branch, El Mahi Suleiman, was detained in the state capital of Singa.
“Detaining demonstrators will not solve the government's deepening political and economic crises.”
In Khartoum, the authorities have stepped up the deployment of security forces in the city centre near the University of Khartoum, in anticipation of more ‘ bread protests’.
On Tuesday afternoon, three University of Khartoum students were detained.
“May Omar, Wifag Gureishi, and Walildin Omar Yousif from the Independent Students Congress (ISC) were held in front of the gate of the Faculty of Engineering,” theISC reported in a statement.
According to the student organisation, the detentions “confirm the panic and fear of the regime for the reactions of the students to the decision to raise the prices of the basic consumer goods”.
Human rights defender Salih Mahmoud denounced the detentions, and said the actions are violating the bill of Rights of the 2005 Constitution.
“The authorities are mistaken if they think they can quell the protests. The people will take to the street any how because of their suffering,” he said. “Detaining demonstrators will not solve the government's deepening political and economic crises.”
*Based on the official US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS)