The Sudanese government refused to reinstate fuel subsidies despite anti-austerity protests that have raged on for more than 10 days in Khartoum and elsewhere in the East African nation, according to Voice of America.
The demonstrations began last week when the government cut fuel subsidies as part of a larger deficit-reduction package. Police have violently cracked downon the protests, using teargas and batons to disperse demonstrators, Voice of America reports.
Despite the public outrage, government ministers vowed to stay the course on the subsidies, which cost the treasury about $2 billion annually, Reuters reported.
Many of the grievances arise from the rising price of fuel, which impacts the price of food and other goods in Sudan. Aruna Adeel in Khartoum wrote on Twitter:
Could’nt buy a watermelon for the past 2wks. the price has hit a record high of 35 sdg equal to 7$.#sudan— Aruna Adeel (@Arunatt) June 26, 2012
In explaining why he joined the protests, Usamah Mohamad, a Web developer in Khartoum, said “I think my country, Sudan, has really hit rock bottom, and things cannot get any worse than they are now. Change now is inevitable.”
On Sunday, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir attempted to downplay the unrest, saying it was no “Arab Spring,” but human rights activists say the demonstrations are now spreading beyond core student activists and “now include previously quiet neighborhoods,” according to Reuters. Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth wrote:
But other activists say the protests are par for the course in Sudan, which both survived a massive civil war earlier this decade and was the site of two popular protests that that toppled rulers in 1964 and 1985. Sudanese activist Dalie Haj-Omar wrote:
Dear int’l media: plz stop saying Sudan is trying for an Arab Spring. This is our 3rd revolution. This is stuff is in our DNA #SudanRevolts— Dalia Haj-Omar (@daloya) June 25, 2012
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