Protests over rising bread prices broke out across Sudan on Sunday, leading to the death of a student and the arrest of a prominent opposition leader as authorities confiscated newspapers and looked to clamp down on growing unrest.
The demonstrations followed a similar protest in the southeastern city of Sennar on Saturday after bread prices doubled following the government's announcement late last month that it was eliminating subsidies in its 2018 budget. In the southeastern city of al-Damazin, police fired tear gas on Sunday as about 400 demonstrators chanted "No, no to price rises!" and some burned tyres, a local resident told Reuters.
The removal of subsidies is part of austerity measures as the country struggles in the face of inflation running at about 25 percent and an acute shortage of hard currency that has sapped import activity.
Authorities arrested Omar Al-Dageir, the president of one of the country's largest opposition groups, the Sudanese Congress Party, members of the party said. Authorities also blocked the sale of six daily newspapers carrying critical coverage of the subsidy cut and price rises, editors of the papers told Reuters. Minister of State for the Interior Ministry, Babkar Daqna, denied demonstrations were in response to price rises and said that destructive protesters will be "dealt with forcefully" state news agency SUNA reported. Sudan has begun a series of economic reforms in line with International Monetary Fund recommendations to try to bolster the economy, months after a U.S. decision to lift sanctions raised hopes that badly needed investment may return.