Sudan riots : “The president dares say he’s brought us prosperity !”
This photo of the protests in Sudan has been widely shared on social networks.
Massive protests have shaken Sudan for three days now. According to one of our Observers in Khartoum, they were sparked by the announcement that fuel prices were going up, prompting a wave of riots that have been violently repressed by the authorities.
Protests first started Monday in Wad Madani, in Sudan’s central Al Jazirah state, after the government announced it would lift subsidies that kept fuel prices low. The protests then spread to the capital Khartoum and the neighbouring city of Omdurman.
Protesters hold up signs asking Sudan's president to step down. They read, "Bachir, get lost" and "Down with the regime".
Protesters burned tyres and blocked roads. Practically all of the petrol stations in Khartoum were set on fire. Dozens of stores were looted. The offices of the party in power, the National Congress Party, were pillaged and burned. Now, all of Sudan’s public institutions, banks, and schools are closed. Domestic flights have been halted and many stores have closed their doors, fearing more looting.
This photo shows protesters on the road to Khartoum's airport. It was published Wednesday on Twitter.
Opposition activists say that in the capital’s Haj Youssef neighbourhood, the police shot live bullets at protesters, wounding more than a dozen people. However, this claim has not yet been confirmed by an independent source.
For help cracking down on these protests, Sudanese police turned to “popular defence militias”. These militias are made up of Islamists that have close ties to the government. They went into the streets armed with knives and batons to confront the protesters.
A burnt-out bus.
The death toll is already quite heavy. According to hospital sources, 29 people have been killed since the start of the protests on Monday.
Protesters blocked several roads, notably in Khartoum, to protest against price hikes.
Ahmed is an activist who lives in Khartoum.
What really made people angry was the speech that President Omar al-Bashir gave last Saturday to announce that the price of fuel was going to rise. His diatribe was seen as very condescending, because he said that he was the one who introduced the Sudanese to such luxuries as pizzas and hot dogs. He dared to say he had brought prosperity and modernity to our country!
In just a few days, the fuel price hike has already had terrible repercussions on people’s lives. At petrol stations, the price has risen from 12.50 pounds (1.20 euros) to 20.80 pounds (3.50 euros) – that’s nearly double. This has led prices for all basic necessities to double as well. Bus tickets have gone from 1.20 pounds (0.20 euros) to 2 pounds. With 1 pound (0.34 euros), we used to be able to buy four bread pancakes; now, for that price, we only buy two. They’ve also announced that prices will go up for electricity, butane fuel, water, etc.
Similar protests took place in Sudan in July 2012, after the government announced austerity measures and price hikes.