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Sudan price hike protests: Arrests in North Kordofan

January 12 - 2018 KHARTOUM / EL OBEID
Street protest in El Obeid, North Kordofan, against the recent price increases that have affected many Sudanese, on Thursday 11 January (RD)
Street protest in El Obeid, North Kordofan, against the recent price increases that have affected many Sudanese, on Thursday 11 January (RD)

More demonstrations condemning the rise of prices in Sudan this week resulted in a number of arrests in Khartoum and El Obeid. Members of Parliament promptly withdrew from a session in which they found the Finance Ministry’s responses “unconvincing”.

On Thursday, the Sudanese security service arrested at least seven lawyers who staged a protest rally in El Obeid in North Kordofan. A lawyer in the town told Radio Dabanga that they organised the protest in El Hurriya Square and brought banners with slogans condemning the recent rise of prices.

“We were dispersed by the security service during the protest. Osman Hassan Saleh, Ali Abulgasim, Tajeldin Ali Ahmed, Adam Ahmed Yagoub, Adam Saleh, Ahmed Sunni Tahaluf and Ahmed El Basha were detained.”

The previous evening the North Kordofan capital witnessed protests in a number of districts. These included the northern districts such as Palestine, Wedelnazir and Wedelyas, where demonstrators piled up and lit tires on the main roads, acording to El Amir Mansour Zakildin.

Zakildin, the head of the local National Umma Party, told Radio Dabanga that the security service (NISS) and riot police violently dispersed the demonstrations with tear gas. “Dozens of people were arrested,” he reported.

Khartoum protests

NISS officers arrested two activists in Khartoum on Thursday afternoon after they organised a protest, held by several women’s civil society organisations against the increase of prices.

Najla Nurein and Rashida Shamseldin were arrested and taken to the office of the NISS in Shendi, activist Tahani Abbas of the No Suppression of Women Initiative told Radio Dabanga. “The only purpose of the vigil was to combat the rise of prices.”

Dozens of women participated in the vigil, said lawyer Manal Khoujali, the leader of a group named Lawyers Without Borders. She told Radio Dabanga that women carried banners on which they had written slogans to condemn the government’s economic policies.

“By then women from Omdurman spontaneously joined the vigil. The police and the security service came after the demonstrations were dispersed.”

Last Sunday, in demonstrations against the doubling of prices which hit Sudan this month, a student was killed in the West Darfur capital of El Geneina. People in other parts of the country held protests as well, during which a number of politicians, activists and other demonstrators were arrested.

MPs criticise ministry

On Wednesday members of the Sudanese parliament withdrew from a session in protest against the failure of the Ministry of Finance to respond to the issue of the price hikes.

Earlier this week MP Siham Hasan told Radio Dabanga that during preparatory meetings of the High Committee for National Budgets, the finance minister promised that the 2018 Budget would not affect the people’s livelihoods.

“The Finance Minister lays the responsibility for the price hike with the traders.” - MP Siham Hasan

She found the responses of Dr Mohamed El Rikabi, the federal minister of finance, on Wednesday “unconvincing and insufficient”. “The minister has absolved himself from the responsibility of the surge of prices and held it to the traders.

“The minister said the control of markets and prices is the responsibility of the states rather than the Ministry of Finance’s. […] But the policies of the Ministry of Finance are the reason for the rise of prices.”

Hasan mocked El Rikabi’s response to her request about issuing ration cards to poor families. According to the minister social support that will be provided to poor families through the Ministry of Social Security. “But the support does not exceed 200 Pounds, which does not match the general price increase.”

Earlier this week Hasan requested the ministry to take action to improve the situation, such as forming of a mechanism to control the market prices.

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