Sudanese protesters took to the streets for a fifth day over the government’s scrapping of fuel subsidies that almost doubled gasoline prices.
State media said 600 demonstrators were arrested and will stand trial next week. Rights groups including Amnesty International and the African Centre for Justice and Peace said at least 50 people were killed in protests on Sept. 24 and 25, while medical officials put the number at 67.
About 200 people began marching in Wad Nubawi in the city of Omdurman, near the capital, Khartoum, chanting “people want the regime down” and “fly fly, Bashir,” residents Ahmed Adel, 23, and Yousseff al-Ghaly, 34, said by phone. Activists and opposition groups including the Umma Party and the Sudan Change Now youth group called for protests after Friday prayers in the Muslim North African nation.
Umar al-Bashir has ruled Sudan since coming to power in a 1989 coup. The 69-year-old leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of responsibility for genocide and war crimes in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
“It’s not about prices anymore,” Khaled Omar, spokesman for Sudan Change Now, said in a phone interview from Khartoum. “Scrapping subsidies was just the spark. People are fed up with this oppressive regime. What were seeing is the accumulation of 24 years of corruption, injustice and oppression.”
Sudan’s economy contracted 4.4 percent last year after newly independent South Sudan took three-quarters of the formerly united country’s oil output of 490,000 barrels a day. The economy may expand 1.2 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Consumer inflation was 22.9 percent in August, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Sudan’s cabinet announced on Sept. 23 that it would cut fuel subsidies. That lifted the cost of gasoline to 14 pounds ($3.17) per gallon from 8 pounds, while public transportation tariffs jumped 26 percent. Bashir defended the decision, saying fuel subsidies threatened the economy more than removing them.
Those arrested to be put on trial next week, state-run Sudan News Agency reports, citing Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud. * At least 142 people arrested in southeastern Sudanese city of Wad Madani, Suna says, citing Mohamed Elkamel Fadl-Allah, spokesman for Gezira state
To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Cairo at firstname.lastname@example.org