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Sudanese Security Forces Fire Tear Gas, Arrest Dozens in ‘Bread Protests’

Sudanese Security Forces Fire Tear Gas, Arrest Dozens in ‘Bread Protests’

Wednesday, 17 January, 2018 - 11:00
Protesters in Khartoum. Photo taken from social media

Sudanese police fired tear gas to disperse a peaceful protest against soaring living costs in central Khartoum on Tuesday.

The Communist Party had called for the demonstration after bread prices more than doubled due to a jump in the cost of flour.

Police arrested dozens of political and media figures and activists, including Communist Party Central Committee member Sadiq Yusuf, and BBC correspondent Mohammed Mohamed Osman, who was released after hours of detention.

Information Minister Ahmed Mohamed Osman denied the use of force against demonstrators, and accused the opposition of causing unrest.

Osman told the German News Agency (dpa) that Tuesday’s protests were organized by members of opposition parties, noting that the government had agreed to solve the problem, but the opposition parties were still mobilizing citizens.

Demonstrations erupted in Khartoum and other cities in the country following the price increase.

A student was killed in el-Geneina, capital of West Darfur state, last week as opposition parties and activists announced their intention to go ahead with the protests against the rising bread prices.

The Sudanese Communist Party informed the security authorities of its intention to conduct a peaceful protest, in order to hand over a memorandum to the head of Khartoum state government against the soaring prices of goods and services.

Sudanese laws stipulate that the police must be informed of peaceful gatherings, to provide the needed protection, but police have used force to disperse the demo that witnessed the participation of over 30 opposition parties. 

The Communist Party issued a statement saying the police used force against the protesters, adding that such a treatment is a reflection of the government’s isolation.

The statement added that this behavior is tantamount to a system that lacks popular support and resorts to force.

Tuesday's protests, which lasted for hours in one of the largest streets in Khartoum, were unprecedented in terms of the number of participants which was estimated to be more than a thousand, according to observers and witnesses.

Demonstrators gathered at the "Martyrs' Garden" near the presidential palace. However, security authorities prevented them from gathering and reaching the protest area.

The protesters, led by Communist Party Secretary Mohammad Mokhtar al-Khatib and a number of other opposition leaders, then staged a demonstration at the "Republic Street", one of the largest avenues in Khartoum, and blocked traffic.

Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters who chanted slogans against the government and increase in princes. Men in civilian clothes, who were likely security services, arrested dozens of activists and politicians.

The country devalued its currency to 18 Sudanese pounds for one US dollar, from a rate of 6.7 pounds in 2017. It also cut wheat subsidies, causing a quick doubling of bread prices.

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