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Sudan security arrests politicians in price hike protests

January 9 - 2018 KHARTOUM / ED DAMAZIN / SENNAR
Security forces guard a gate of the University of Khartoum where students started protests against the price increases on 7 January 2018 (RD)
Security forces guard a gate of the University of Khartoum where students started protests against the price increases on 7 January 2018 (RD)

The Sudanese security service arrested a number of politicians who joined the protests against the nationwide price increases on consumer goods in Khartoum, Sennar and Blue Nile towns, on the same day of the killing of a student protester.

Yesterday the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Khartoum arrested Adil Khalafallah, a member of the Baath Party, and activist Ahmed Zuheir. The intelligence service in Ed Damazin, Blue Nile state, arrested activist Ali Hageo following a demonstration against the price rises on Sunday.

The NISS have also arrested El Mahi Suleiman, the head of the Sudanese Congress Party branch in Sennar. Reportedly also the president of the party, Omar El Digeir, and Dr Jalal Mustafa who is an official of the party’s human rights secretariat, have been detained.

On Sunday, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, Babikir Digna, told the press in Khartoum that his Ministry “will not hesitate to crack down on any subversive demonstration against the price hikes”.

“We will suppress any sabotage attempts,” he stressed, and added that peaceful demonstrations are permitted after obtaining a permission from the authorities in advance, “just as in any other country in the world”.

Budget

In a bid to fight the steadily increasing hard currency rate at the black market, the government proposed in its 2018 Budget to raise the customs rate of the Dollar from SDG 6.7 to SDG 18. The budget was approved by the Sudanese Parliament on 31 December. After the increase of the customs price came into effect on Tuesday, the prices of the main consumer goods doubled or even tripled.

“We don’t know what to do any more,” a housewife told Radio Dabanga from Khartoum North on Sunday. “The increases concern everything, fuel, bread, cooking oil, medicines, you name it.”

Detentions

The Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) claimed in a statement that the arrests of its members will not affect the position of the party rejecting the price increases. It demanded the release of Suleiman, El Digeir and Mustafa or to bring them to a fair trial.

The opposition party pointed to a similar campaign of arrests among students in White Nile, Sennar, West Darfur and El Gezira states. On Sunday, the third day of the street demonstrations, a school student was killed in the West Darfur capital when government forces opened fire on a crowd of demonstrators.

The SCP added that it “strongly rejects” the ongoing confiscation of newspapers and setback in the freedom of expression for journalists.


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