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Sudan police beat protesters at demo against rising prices

Khartoum, Sudan | AFP | Anti-riot police fired tear gas and beat protesters with batons Tuesday as hundreds of Sudanese demonstrated against soaring bread prices near a presidential palace in Khartoum, an AFP correspondent said.

Bread prices have more than doubled after a jump in the cost of flour due to dwindling wheat supplies, after the government decided to stop importing grain and allow private companies to do so.

The protest was the biggest in Khartoum since demonstrations erupted in some parts of the country earlier this month following the price increase.

On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters poured into the streets near a presidential palace in central Khartoum after the opposition Communist Party of Sudan called for an anti-government rally.

“No, no to hunger! No, no to high prices!” protesters shouted near the palace.

Police fired tear gas and hit protesters with batons as they tried to break up the protest.

A senior leader from the Communist Party, Siddig Yousif, was detained along with several protesters, the correspondent reported.

The Communist Party had sought permission from the authorities last week to hold Tuesday’s rally but it had been denied.

“Today is an important day for Sudan as it is the start of widespread protests,” a demonstrator told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“We were demonstrating peacefully but still the police beat us. This shows that the regime will not tolerate even peaceful protests.”

Pictures and videos of Tuesday’s protests were widely uploaded on social media networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Later on Tuesday police dispersed the rally near the palace but protesters staged small demonstrations in nearby streets as they were chased away.

“Lot of people watched us as we protested. I’m sure they will join us next time,” the protester said.

The Communist Party said its members will continue to mobilise people and hold night-time demonstrations, while the country’s main opposition Umma Party called for an anti-government demonstration on Wednesday.

On Monday last week, students also rallied against the rising prices near Khartoum University but police swiftly broke up the protest.

The day before, in the town of Geneina in the war-torn region of Darfur, a student was killed during a similar protest. It was unclear how he was killed.

Anti-government protests erupted after the cost of a 50-kilo (110-pound) sack of flour jumped from 167 ($9) to 450 Sudanese pounds ($25).

Similar protests were held in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.

The authorities cracked down on those protests to prevent a repeat of the deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013.

Dozens of people were killed in 2013 when security forces crushed large street demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.

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