Sudan poor yet to join protests

2012-07-19 11:13
(AFP)

(AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Khartoum - Sudan's millions of poor have yet to surge into the streets to back scattered Arab Spring-style protests as government austerity measures try to stem soaring prices and a falling currency.

Inflation reached 37% year-on-year in June and jumped almost 10 points in May but the demonstrations, sparked by high food prices, have been largely youth driven.

"So far the movement is concentrated with students and protest activists," one veteran activist said, adding it could take time for the "oppressed" poor to rise up.

Sudanese history shows that "usually the poor join late", following the professional classes, said University of Khartoum economist Mohammed Eljack Ahmed.

But more than a month after protests began at the University of Khartoum there has been no mass support from professionals, although lawyers have demonstrated.

"So far they are so limited," Ahmed said of the protests.

Demonstrations spread to include a cross-section of people, but often only in groups of 100 or 200. Protests have lately focused on Fridays at a mosque linked to the opposition Umma party in Khartoum's twin city of Omdurman.

Rallies have not attracted the tens of thousands of students, engineers, lawyers and trade unionists who toppled Sudanese military regimes in 1964 and 1985.

Sudan, with more than 30 million people, has a poverty rate of 46.5 percent, the United Nations says.

In its latest report on Sudan the World Bank described as "alarming" the 28.6% annual inflation rate reached in April, with prices having gone even higher since.

Major issue

The bank said food prices were mainly behind the inflation, which was "partly due to the rising import cost of basic goods as a result of weakening local currency value".

Sudan's pound has tumbled on the black market from about four pounds per one dollar in September to around six now. Some say it could drop to 10 or more if inflation is not contained.

The pound has been under pressure since South Sudan separated in July 2011, taking with it about 75% of Sudanese oil production that is worth billions of dollars and was the country's largest source of hard currency.

Loss of oil revenue has led to "serious external and internal deficits, inflation and economic hardship", the World Bank said.

Failure to agree with South Sudan on oil fees cost the Sudanese economy another $1.48bn, Finance Minister Ali Mahmud al-Rasul has said.

The fees, which South Sudan would pay for exporting its oil through Sudan's pipeline and port, are a major issue to be negotiated at African Union-led talks being held in Addis Ababa.

Trying to address the fiscal imbalance, Sudan announced measures in June that Rasul said would save $1.5bn.

The government devalued the pound from 2.70 per dollar to 4.40, while sanctioning a trading band that lets the price range to 5.30, closer to the unofficial rate.

An international economist said the "very significant" depreciation should lead to a balance of payments adjustment, boosting exports and curbing imports after the loss of oil revenues.

Traditional mechanisms

But foreign reserves, needed to pay for imports, remain "very, very low" despite a "sizeable amount" that apparently arrived from offshore, said the economist, asking for anonymity.

The government also said taxes on bank profits will rise along with value-added tax.

It also cut five of 31 cabinet posts, trimmed ministers' salaries and laid off presidential advisers.

Another move led to a rise of about 50% in the pump price of petrol under a phasing out of fuel subsidies which had been set at £2.2bn this year.

Despite the cut in subsidies there was a rise in social safety net spending, said Paul Jenkins, resident representative of the International Monetary Fund. On the revenue side the government measures were "quite solid", he added.

Past experience has shown that official social assistance funds failed to alleviate the suffering of low-income groups, said Ahmed.

Rather than relying on government, most of the poor depend on traditional social support mechanisms through extended families, Ahmed said.

"These traditional mechanisms are actually playing a main role in alleviating the seriousness and the suffering of these poor."

Rabbie Abdelatti Ebaid, a senior official in the ruling National Congress Party, also referred to traditional coping mechanisms.

"We are not like others... We can share each and every thing with each other," he said, adding that Sudanese survived worse economic crises in years past and current problems should be overcome within six months.

"Because now a lot of work is underway," he said. "We know what we are doing."

Read more on:    sudan  |  east africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!
This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!
This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.