In recent weeks, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the East African republic, including in the country’s capital Khartoum, for the most widespread public demonstrations since president Omar al-Bashir seized power in a bloodless military coup 24 years ago.
Protests quickly escalated from demonstrations over a cut in fuel subsidies to wider dissent against the country's leadership after security forces killed at least 50 people last week, according to the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies and human rights watchdog Amnesty International.As in other Muslim countries, food prices are driving the protests:
In the year since it lost more than 70 percent of its oil reserves when South Sudan split, Sudan has faced soaring inflation.
Apparently heeding advice from a 2012 International Monetary Fund report that called fuel subsidies “inefficient and inequitable” and said their “removal would deliver substantial gains to Sudan,” Bashir removed them as part of a raft of austerity measures.
“The price of petrol has risen enormously and that of course has ramifications,” said Amin Mekki Medani, a spokesperson for the Confederation of Civil Society, a non-governmental organization in Sudan. “Bread is transported, milk is transported, vegetables are transported and so it has an effect on every aspect of simple life.
“The price of a loaf of bread remains the same, but the size and the weight of the bread has reduced by about 30 percent, so it’s not the same. People can see what is happening,” Medani said.Government crackdowns have included using lethal force against protesters, forcing foreign news agencies to close their offices, and shutting down internet access.