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Still no slack in Sudan’s food prices as Ramadan approaches

May 15 - 2018 KHARTOUM
Women cook iftar in the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people, North Darfur (Sidig Mohamed/Unamid)
Women cook iftar in the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people, North Darfur (Sidig Mohamed/Unamid)

With Ramadan rapidly approaching, people in Sudan head into the holy month with diminishing happiness because of the price hikes in consumer goods and growing shortage of fuel. “A general strike is the solution,” according to an economic expert.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan will begin either on the eve of May 15 or May 16, depending on the sighting of the moon. Nearing the end of Ramadan people usually buy sweets, presents, and new clothes for their families and children for the occasion of Eid El Fitr.

Last year, a number of listeners told this station that “It has become a tradition to complain about price hikes the days before the Eid,” a father of five told Radio Dabanga from the Sudanese capital. “Yet, this time it seems I can barely afford to buy sweets.” The current price hikes may prove the Sudanese people difficult to celebrate the holiday this year.

An economic expert, Prof. Sidgi Kabelllo said that the current economic crisis is caused by the existence of the regime itself. “A totalitarian system has to guard itself by strengthening the security machine on the one hand and by granting jobs and allocations,” he told Radio Dabanga.

“Spending on the state apparatus, the army and the militias is the most powerful cause of the deficit. This is coupled with an agricultural and industrial production crisis […] the crises are only solved by a comprehensive change of the nature of the state apparatus.

“The current fuel crisis is not a temporary crisis because of the deterioration of oil production, which will continue to deteriorate. In addition there is a lack of opening new oil production areas because partners do not want to invest in Sudan under the current circumstances.”

“The solution to this crisis is a political one, but the government has lost any political credibility.”

Kabello added that the solution is a popular uprising and a general political strike, but that this depends on the opposition’s ability to organise the masses. “Otherwise, the streets will explode without organisation, which will have similar effects to the year 1964.”

This would bring about “a change that will lead to sustainable democracy with a reasonable transitional period of four years, and reform of the economy” according to Kabello.

Also Sudan’s humanitarian situation has become increasingly complex as recent food price increases have left many additional people unable to afford enough to eat. In addition, the fuel shortages have affected humanitarian agencies’ ability to deliver assistance to vulnerable communities.

Ramadan wishes

Jeremiah Kingsley Mamabolo, the African Union – United Nations Joint Special Representative/Joint Chief Mediator in Sudan, extended his wishes to the Government and people of Sudan, at the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

“As Unamid undergoes its reconfiguration in anticipation of its eventual exit from Darfur, it is our hope that the people of Darfur and Sudan, in general, can translate the essence of Islam as a religion of peace, love, and compassion into action by continuing to engage in a constructive and meaningful dialogue that leads to peace, prosperity and a better life for present and future generations,” Mamabolo said in a press statement today.

The Sudanese authorities began to push for the exit of Unamid in end 2014. On June 29, 2017, the UN Security Council renewed Unamid’s mandate for another year while reducing the number of peacekeepers.

Last week, Unamid chief Mamabolo briefed the UN Security Council (UNSC) on the current situation in Darfur, reporting that the general security situation in Darfur remains calm, except for sporadic clashes between the rebel and government forces in Jebel Marra. Commenting on his “gloss-over assessment”, Jehanne Henry, team leader of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Africa Division called upon Unamid to deepen and strengthen – not abandon– its human rights and protection role.

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