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Sudanese women protest against austerity measures, expats collect money

November 21 - 2016 OMDURMAN / KASSALA
Protest against the recent austerity measures in Kassala, 21 November 2016 (RD)
Protest against the recent austerity measures in Kassala, 21 November 2016 (RD)

Groups of young Sudanese, mostly women, protested against the soaring prices of basic commodities in Omdurman, Wad Madani, Port Sudan, and Kassala today.

In El Arda street in Omdurman, the demonstrators held banners demanding the cancellation of the recent austerity measures, the liberalisation of the US Dollar rate, and the return of subsidies on medicines.

“When we were on our way to El Arbaeen street, the police began to beat us with their batons,” one of the protesters told Radio Dabanga.

“They detained about 17 women, and charged them with disturbing public order,” she said.

In eastern Sudan, women staged sit-ins in Port Sudan and Kassala, They raised banners denouncing the sky-rocketing medicine prices last week.

In Kassala, Yasir Khalil Hashim, an employee at the Kassala Ministry of Health, was detained when he joined one of the sit-ins, an activist reported to this station.

He condemned the “brutal manner” with which the police dealt with the demonstrators.

On Sunday, dozens of young Sudanese, most of them women, staged a protest at the Airport Road in Khartoum against the sky-rocketing prices of basic commodities and medicines in the country.

One of the protesters said that the demonstration was arranged through the social media.

“The demonstrations will continue from one place to another,” he said. “We will exhaust the authorities until the Sudanese all over the country will rise and eliminate the current regime.”

Hashtag

Sudanese expatriates issued the hashtag “expats for our people” on Twitter, calling for financial support for poor patients.

Activists abroad opened bank accounts under the name “the charitable pharmacy” to provide gratis medicines to the poor in their country.

On 3 November, the Minister of Finance announced the liberalisation of fuel prices in the country. The measures that took effect the next day are part of an economic reform programme, which according to President Omar Al Bashir was needed “to avoid the collapse of the country”.

As the ongoing shortages of hard currency at the Central Bank of Sudan continued to push the black market rate of the US Dollar upwards this year, the government also liberalised the official hard currency rates for a number of import goods and services last week. This immediately affected the prices of wheat and medicines.

More than 400 pharmacies in Khartoum did not open their doors on Saturday, in protest against the doubling and in some cases tripling of medicine prices.

According to an economic expert, the proportion of Sudanese now living below the poverty line has reached 65-70 per cent.


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