- President Omar Al-Bashir
“Those who tried to create [protest] movement are some youth and street children,” he told a public rally in Wad Al-Fadni area east of the capital Khartoum on Saturday.
Bashir is referring to the wave of street protests that were ignited on 16 June by his government’s decision to implement austerity programs including the termination of fuel subsidies to make up for what officials say is a budget deficit of $2.4 billion US created as a result of losing three quarters of the country’s oil production due to South Sudan’s secession.
Over the following two weeks, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in sporadic parts of the capital Khartoum and ten regional towns, burning tires and chanting slogans calling for the downfall of Bashir’s regime.
Security authorities used tear gas, batons and rubber bullets to stamp out the demonstrations, arresting more than 2,000 people in the process, according to activist groups.
In his address, Bashir accused sides he did not name of trying to exploit Sudan’s economic crisis. But he added he was confident that Sudanese people are supporting his government’s efforts to overcome the current straitened situation.
The Sudanese president promised to take measures to resolve the economic crisis and shelter poor pockets of society from its effects.
Bashir hinted that his country is being targeted because it chose to uphold Islamic values. “Those besieging us are doing so because we swore allegiance to Allah and committed ourselves to Islamic Sharia [law]."
Sudanese officials often cite the economic sanctions that the United States (US) has imposed on the country since 1997 as one of the causes of the current economic situation.
They also complain that the West is blocking government efforts to have the country’s foreign debt relieved.
Earlier this year, the US successfully lobbied to cancel an international conference that was supposed to be held in Turkey to discuss ways of supporting Sudan’s economy.
The US move appeared to be in response to Khartoum’s refusal to allow foreign aid groups to access the country’s war-hit region of South Kordofan.