Sudan Bread Protests Will Turn Into an Anti-government Movement

The economic situation in Sudan was extremely affected by the separation of South Sudan in 2011. Following the referendum that led to the breakaway, our country lost several oil fields and about 75 percent of the oil income.

The government, completely dependent on oil revenues, failed to develop agricultural and industrial fields. This, in addition to corruption and the involvement in the Yemen war, has deeply affected the country's growth.

Since 2011, President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir has not been able to provide any serious solutions to overcome these continuous crises. What his administration has offered is to compensate the economic stagnation by removing the government's subsidies on many goods.

The government's decision to increase petrol and diesel prices by 30 percent last year, a move that resulted in rising costs of goods including medicines and public transport, sparked protests and strikes in the country.

At the beginning of 2018, the government removed subsidy on flour. As a result, bread prices have doubled in the country.

This has sparked serious calls for a revolution by many opposition parties, including the Liberal party, the Sudanese Congress Party and National Umma Party. People took to the streets of several cities, including the capital Khartoum to protest.

The demonstrations resulted in the death of at least one student and the arrest of prominent opposition leader Omar Al-Dageir, the president of Sudanese Congress Party, and many activists. The government began to confiscate newspapers.

Sudan bread protests
A Sudanese man works at a bakery in the capital Khartoum on January 5, 2018. Bread prices have doubled in Sudan after the government removed subsidy on flour. The move has sparked protests in the country, where at least one student was killed and an opposition leader arrested. ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images

As more students have joined the demonstrations, violence remains the only response.

Seven citizens started a hunger strike protesting the recent decisions, but there is no response from the authorities so far.

"I will be on [an] open hunger strike till the return of the subsidy," said Amjad Abdelrazig on January 9. He has not been eating for three days.

Ola Elsiddig, a 22-year-old student, is on the third day of her hunger strike. Another five citizens are trying to revert the government's decision by refusing to eat.

Bashir came to the power in June 1989, following a military coup. The leader, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity including genocide committed in the Darfur. region, has been the president of Sudan for 28 years. He is now allegedly planning to change the last agreed constitution to allow him to govern for additional five years.

So far, people have been protesting to force the government to reintroduce the subsidy on flour and keep the prices as they were. But very soon this can escalate into much wider demonstrations calling on the current government to step down.

Ramiz Altijani is the Acting International Liaison Officer of Sudan's Liberal Party