Home | News    Thursday 26 September 2013

Deadliest day in Sudan’s fuel subsidies protests, nationwide internet acccess cut off

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September 25, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government announced on Wednesday that orders were issued to the army to deploy to public government buildings and gas stations to protect from protesters who continued demonstrating against the decision to cut fuel subsidies.

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A man walks past a burning petrol station during a protest against a cut in fuel subsidies in the Omdurman district of Khartoum in this still image taken from video said to be taken September 24, 2013 (REUTERS/Kidintakar Radio Station/Storyful/via Reuters TV)

Ahmed Bilal, the country’s information minister and government spokesperson, told the pro-government Ashorooq TV that the army was asked to move in against "outlaws".

"What we see confirms that they are not peaceful protesters but outlaws," Bilal said.

He also acknowledged reports of an internet shutdown saying that the government has exercised "plenty of self-restraint" but promised that the cyber-blackout will soon end.

The spokesperson accused unspecified elements of inciting the demonstrations which started on Monday in Sudan’s central state of Gezira and spread later to other parts of the country including Khartoum, Omdurman, Darfur and Eastern Sudan.

In Gezira state capital of Wad Madani, Bilal said, the protesters attacked more than 37 policemen before adding that only 5 people were killed on both sides.

Bilal also claimed that some of the protesters were carrying knives and firearms. He also denied reports that some of the forces joined hands with protesters.

The Sudanese 1st vice-president Ali Osman Taha who was addressing an event in Khartoum today, said that his government does not fear those demonstrations and insisted that the economic measures decided this week will remain in place.

But in an apparent bid to prevent escalation, the Khartoum state government announced that schools will be closed till next Monday. Many of the protests were comprised of students, eyewitnesses said.

This follows announcement of several universities this week that they will close in light of the unrest.

CONFLICTING DEATH FIGURES

Today’s demonstrations spread to down-town Khartoum and saw protesters setting fire in police stations and even buildings belonging to the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in south of the capital as well as gas stations.

Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters who threw rocks at them, burned tires and even blocked a main road in the capital.

The protestors chanted slogans which included "The people want the fall of the regime!", "Freedom, Freedom!".

It has been hard to ascertain the number of deaths in today’s demonstrations given the internet shut-down and suspension of transportation services. Businesses and shops were also closed as merchants feared looting.

The director of Omdurman hospital Osama Mortada told the BBC’s Arabic Service that 21 people sent to his hospital had died, and that about 80 were injured.

"All have gunshot wounds, some in the chest," he said.

Opposition figures put the death toll between 50-80 but there was no independent verification.

Despite government assertions that police did not use force, several eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune they have seen dead friends or family members with bullet shots on their bodies.

Another eye witness in north Khartoum told Sudan Tribune that he saw security agents in plain-clothes fire live ammunition at protesters and beating some of them violently.

A Reuters reporter saw police fire tear-gas grenades into a crowd while hundreds of officers and plain-clothes security agents armed with guns or batons rushed to the city center. Others were sitting on the roof of government buildings. Security agents drove away some 20 protesters in pick-up trucks.

US CALLS FOR END TO VIOLENCE

The United States Embassy in Khartoum issued a statement today saying that is aware of the protests in Sudan with violence and damage to properties that ensued.

"We call on the authorities to respect the civil liberties of those protesting and, in particular, their right to assemble peacefully and express their views. We urge all parties to refrain from the use of violence," the embassy said.

"During this challenging time for Sudan, it is vital that all sides exercise caution and restraint" the statement read.

The Sudanese embassy in Washington said in a press release that the lifting of fuel subsidies was due to the US economic sanctions.

"Due to continuing economic sanctions against the peoples of Sudan, the Government of Sudan lifted subsidies for gasoline. Some citizens violently protested this necessary economic measure by burning government buildings, gasoline stations, shopping malls and private property. Some also attacked the police, who defended themselves while protecting public and private property," the embassy said.

It also denied imposing an internet blackout.

"The Government of Sudan did not block internet access. Among other targets, violent protesters burned facilities of Canar Telecommunications Company, which hosts the core base of internet services for Sudan. These fires resulted in continuing internet black outs across Sudan," it added.

"The Government of Sudan and Canar Telecom have now partially restored internet service and will work until internet access is fully restored".

Renesys Corp., a company that maps the pathways of the Internet, said according to Associated Press that it could not confirm whether the blackout was government-orchestrated. But the outage recalls a similarly dramatic outage in Egypt, Sudan’s neighbour, when authorities shut off Internet access during that country’s 2011 uprising.

"It’s either a government-directed thing or some very catastrophic technological failure that just happens to coincide with violent riots happening in the city," said senior analyst Doug Madory. He said it was almost a "total blackout."

ECONOMY ON THE BRINK

On Monday, the Sudanese cabinet formally endorsed a decision that has been circulated the night before by which prices of gasoline and diesel were increased by almost 100%.

A gallon of gasoline now costs 21 Sudanese pounds ($4.77 based on official exchange rate) compared to 12.5 pounds ($2.84).

Diesel also went from 8 pounds ($1.81) a gallon to 14 pounds ($3.18).

Cooking gas cylinders are now are priced at 25 pounds ($5.68) from 15 pounds ($3.40).

The cabinet also raised the US dollar exchange rate for importing purposes to 5.7 pounds compared to 4.4. The black market rate now stands at 8.2.

Senior Sudanese officials including president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir have defended the measure saying the only alternative would be an economic collapse as the state budget can no longer continue offering the generous subsidies on petroleum products to its people.

Sudan’s oil boom that fuelled an unprecedented economic growth and a relative prosperity over the last decade came to an end with the independence of South Sudan which housed around three quarters of the crude reserves prior to the country’s partition.

Last year the Sudanese government rolled out an austerity package that saw a scaling back of fuel and sugar subsidies as well as cutting the number of ministries. It also effectively devalued the beleaguered currency with the goal of reducing exchange rate parity with the black market.

But the economic picture remained bleak with inflation rates at double digit figures which pushed ordinary Sudanese to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for food and other basic commodities.

The Sudanese pound also continued its free fall against the US dollar reaching 8.2 in the black market this week compared to an official rate of 4.4.

The decline of the local currency and shortage of Forex meant that Sudan will pay more to import food which is vital to plug the deficiency in local food production. It also hurt businessmen and foreign companies that desperately seek to repatriate profits abroad.

This year’s round of subsidy cuts nearly doubled gasoline and diesel prices which is sure to be felt across the board and will likely create a domino effect on prices of other goods and services such as transportation tariffs which were already increased by 25% in Khartoum.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 26 September 2013 08:15, by zulu

    south sudan should help push this ncp government out by stopping all aid including border trade. let the regime fall to arman, el hilu and the darfur rebels.

    repondre message

    • 26 September 2013 08:55, by Northern Sudanese

      zulu
      what aid are you talking about? you know pretty well that you can’t even feed yourselves depending on the UN to feed nearly all your people. if you close trade then its fine, its not us that will see 98% of the income gone :P

      repondre message

      • 26 September 2013 11:40, by Logic

        Northern Sudanese
        Find another job, you’re boring us! Retarded bigot.

        repondre message

        • 26 September 2013 19:00, by Northern Sudanese

          I don’t think my job was entertaining urine drinkers or was it illiterate fool :P

          repondre message

  • 26 September 2013 08:58, by Northern Sudanese

    its funny when US embassy says
    ’’We call on the authorities to respect the civil liberties of those protesting and, in particular, their right to assemble peacefully and express their views’’ so destroying public buses , petrol stations , stores , markets , cars etc. is peaceful? they must have gone mad if they had to do that to express their views!

    repondre message

    • 26 September 2013 11:10, by Kalo

      Northen Sudan,your time with NCP is over better look for another safe haven or join the protesters,do you need the way of Libya,Egypt and Syria?people of Sudan will do that.
      The son of Nuba

      repondre message

      • 26 September 2013 19:02, by Northern Sudanese

        Kalo
        we are not Libya , egypt or syria , we are Sudan. what has happened in libya and syria is the last thing that I want to see happening in sudan. we don’t need this crap right now, lifting fuel subsidies is a temporary requirement that is needed for the national economy.

        repondre message

        • 26 September 2013 19:40, by Kalo

          Northern Sudan,believe me or not,the scenarists of Arabs spring will take place in Sudan don,t tell me why,just wait
          Wad -Nuba

          repondre message

  • 26 September 2013 12:00, by Jalaby

    S. Sudan will soon be hit by the same riot as soon as Juba government lift subsiding fuel
    Did I ever tell you something never occurred? Did I ever lie to you guys? did you ask yourself why my political prediction always becomes true?
    As I told you before buddy, I use my Data Mining intelligent system and that’s why my prediction is true!

    repondre message

    • 26 September 2013 12:05, by Jalaby

      Now, my Data Mining is telling me that the south will face the same riot as soon the government lift subsiding the oil, Oil companies (Chinese, Indians, Malians) and Sudan government are all sharing with the south every barrel the south exports hence the oil revenue by itself is not enough to fill the south treasury and meets the huge infrastructure development

      repondre message

      • 26 September 2013 12:11, by Jalaby

        in addition to what people basic need such as food, medicine, education,etc and absolutely never forget the money that will end up at thieves pockets!!
        The south has no other solution but as usual to follow Khartoum steps, you know, what happens in north will likely reflect the south either +vely or -vely because north-south are still united economically and socially

        repondre message

        • 26 September 2013 12:18, by Jalaby

          the separation is just political one and no more no less!
          Believe it or not, the south will come back to north as soon as their oil finish, and as you know the south oil will start to decrease by 2017 and vanishes 10 years later, same like Bahrain country, their oil finished, and Yemen oil is dropping sharply!!
          Get ready guys!

          repondre message

        • 26 September 2013 12:47, by Ambago

          Sudan’s oil boom that fueled an unprecedented economic growth and a relative prosperity over the last decade came to an end with the independence of South Sudan which housed around three quarters of the crude reserves prior to the country’s partition.
          This is the story of the fake Islamic Economic system of Al Bashir and his NCP/NIF crooks.

          repondre message

      • 26 September 2013 12:45, by Isme

        Mr jalanga you seem to be a good witch, So tell me when will Israeli mighty army or IAF will bomb your dirty country (..Sudan..) again?
        Isme from Israel.

        repondre message

        • 26 September 2013 14:26, by dude

          Jalaby, you got it wrong. The oil will not finish in South Sudan. The only oil that will finished are the ones that you had started pumping since Sudan was one country. South Sudan has a large oil reservesthat are untapped. South Sudan land is 85 percent agricultural. They have gold and other gases that are there. It is a very rich country indeed.

          repondre message

  • 26 September 2013 14:30, by dude

    South Sudanese are opened minded, and they are not like you Jalaby. We welcome in our country anyone that is willing to do business with us. We do not worry or care if you are Muslims or Christians, Jews, Indu, Jews or Chinese. We care only about doing business in the concept of if you help me then I will have you too. We do not care about religions because we know that God is only the Judge.

    repondre message

  • 26 September 2013 14:42, by dude

    South Sudanese, do not talk about other nations telling them that they are insects when they are really human beings. We are not mentally retarded like you. I am sorry to say that, but should I also say that we are not in that business that does not exist. Jalaby, If you put or say first the word "Sudanese", then you will wake up and your dirty thinking will be washed a way.

    repondre message

  • 26 September 2013 14:54, by dude

    Sudanese first or Sudanese Oyee to replace Allah Akbar to Kill the Christians or the Jews. This negative concept we do not want because Sudanese in the South Sudan can not be called that way. They Are Sudanese first, and the religion does not have anything to do with nationalism and Unity. Religion is between an individuals and God who is your Judge for your Judgment day. IF you do not leave your

    repondre message

    • 26 September 2013 15:02, by dude

      devilish thinking, then we are not coming back to the reuninonification of Two Sudan’s, and no body will force us do so. You in the North Sudan, Need to start thinking intellectually as real Sudanese and not an outsiders. You need to reconsider democracy; the right of an insect to move around freely in Sudanese land as you call it. If you do that then we can reunionicate.

      repondre message

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