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Sudan's severe bread and fuel shortages continue to trigger protests

October 1 - 2020 KHARTOUM
People waiting to buy bread behind a line of vehicles waiting to buy fuel, Khartoum, September 28 (Social media)
People waiting to buy bread behind a line of vehicles waiting to buy fuel, Khartoum, September 28 (Social media)

For the second week, Sudanese in the entire country are suffering from a renewed bread and fuel crisis. Protests against the shortages and high prices continued in a number of towns on Wednesday. Members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia assaulted a student in Khartoum because he objected to fraud at a petrol station.

Several people told Radio Dabanga from Khartoum and a number of states that they are forced to queue in long lines in front of bakeries and petrol stations to acquire bread and fuel since mid-September. They called on the government “to do its work”, and provide flour, petrol and diesel.

Economic sources attribute the new crisis to the government's failure to pay its debts, amounting to $20 million, to the flour mills in the country. For this reason, many bakeries did not receive their full share of flour for two weeks.

The US Dollar sold for SDG247 on the parallel market in Khartoum on Tuesday, while the price of a Euro reached SDG280.

Khartoum is buying most of its wheat abroad. By 2017, Sudan was importing more than two million tons of wheat annually at a cost of $1.5 billion. Analysts attributed the recurring flour crises, since 2015, to the lack of hard currency at the Sudanese banks which forced the importers, including the government, to buy Dollars at the parallel market. 

The chronic shortages of wheat in Sudan prompted unscrupulous parties to hoard wheat in order to manipulate the supply and market prices. An illegal stash of nearly 40,000 (100kg) sacks of wheat was seized in a raid on the Kosti Meat Company in early July.

Protests

Protests against the bread and fuel shortages, as well as the soaring prices of consumer goods continued in Khartoum, Port Sudan in Red Sea state and Wad Madani in El Gezira.

In Khartoum, the police broke up a demonstration heading toward the Council of Ministers yesterday. The protesters demanded the dismissal of the Minister of Trade and Industry. They blocked a number of main roads in downtown Khartoum with burning tyres.

The police dispersed the crowd with “a massive use of tear gas”. No injuries were reported.

Student Mohamed Hafiz was assaulted by RSF members
after objecting to fraud at a petrol station in Khartoum on Wednesday (Social media)

Attacked

The long lines in front of the fuel stations in the Sudanese capital also lead to fraud and violence.

Mohamed Hafiz, a student at El Razi University, was assaulted by members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces at a petrol station in Khartoum on Wednesday.

After he objected to a Prado car bypassing the queue of vehicles in front of a fuel station and filling the car with petrol, Hafiz was beaten and kicked, tied with ropes, and his hair was shaved, a practice often done by the militiamen to humiliate the victims.

Photos published on social media showed the effects of the beatings on his body, amid widespread condemnation.

* USD 1 = SDG 55.1375 at the time of publishing this article. As effective foreign exchange rates can vary in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS). At the parallel market in Khartoum, the greenback is selling for around SDG250 (a record height of SDG260 was reported on September 10).


Radio Dabanga’s editorial independence means that we can continue to provide factual updates about political developments to Sudanese and international actors, educate people about how to avoid outbreaks of infectious diseases, and provide a window to the world for those in all corners of Sudan. Support Radio Dabanga for as little as €2.50, the equivalent of a cup of coffee.


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