November 21, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese women protests against drug price hikes have continued for a second straight day on Monday in several cities across the country as trial of protesters begins in the capital Khartoum.
On Sunday, dozens of women staged a demonstration in Khartoum against the government decision to raise fuel, electricity and drug prices before they were dispersed by police and security services.
Women demonstrations on Monday showed signs of widening as protesters took to the streets of several cities across the country including Wad Medani, Kassala, Port Sudan and Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman.
In Omdurman, a group of women staged a demonstration in Al-Arda street holding banners demanding the government to reverse its decision to lift drug subsidy.
Also dozens of women protested in the cities of Kassala and Port Sudan in eastern Sudan holding banners denouncing the significant increase in the prices of medicines.
Similar women protests also occurred in Wad Medani, 188 km south of Khartoum.
On 3 November, Sudanese government lifted fuel subsidies and increased electricity price in a bid to stop the surge in inflation and control the fall of Sudanese pound in the black market.
Also, earlier this month, Central Bank of Sudan announced it will no longer provide US dollar for drug importation at rate of 7,5 Sudanese pounds (SDG) forcing pharmaceutical companies to buy the dollar from the black market at 17,5 pounds. As a result, drug prices rose by 100 to 300 percent.
The government decision stirred up small-scale protests in several towns across Sudan. Also, some two hundred private pharmacies in Khartoum went on partial strike and closed their doors from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday in protest against the government’s move.
PROTESTERS TRIAL BEGINS IN KHARTOUM
Meanwhile, trial of 11 women and 6 men who were arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) during the protests on Sunday has begun at Khartoum criminal court.
The NISS filed criminal charges against the protesters under articles 69 (disturbance of public peace) and 77 (public nuisance) of the Criminal Code.
On Monday, the court heard the complainants and the judge delayed the trial session to Wednesday.
It is noteworthy that the NISS has also filed similar charges in a separate case against 10 other protesters before the same judge.
The hearing session of the second case has been delayed to Tuesday morning.
Following the government decision to raise fuel and electricity price, the NISS launched a large-scale arrest campaign and detained 20 leading figures from the Sudan Congress Party besides several members of the NUP, Sudanese Communist Party , Arab Ba’ath Party, National Alliance Forces, Reform Now Movement as well as civil society activists and journalists.
Also, the NISS detained twelve and summoned dozens of the Sudanese doctors participating in the strike that has been ongoing since last month.
However, none of the detained doctors and political activists was taken to court.