5 Things You Need To Know About Why People In Sudan Are Rising Up
The Sudanese people want a regime change.
January 02, 2019 at 9:37 pm
The poor and the starving have had enough, and ongoing protest in Sudan is just one example of that.
Sudan is now at the center of an ongoing crisis stemming from corrupt and ineffective leadership and extreme poverty. Protesters have rallied to call for change despite facing imminent threats of violence from their government. With an unpopular leader, Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, ramping up chaos, a political fight may be the beginning of his end.
Here is what you need to know about the ongoing revolt in the east African nation.
1. Food shortages are common.
Sudan is a nation dependent on bread. It serves as the main dish in many families diets. According to the Agence Free Press, protests erupted in the northern city of Atbara over the cost of the dietary staple.
On December 19, bread prices rose from one Sudanese pound to three pounds which equates to two to six cents in U.S. currency. Widespread panic led to long lines at local bakeries. Sudanese citizens attempted to buy bread but stores limited the amount sold to 20 loaves each as the price hike took effect.
“In Sudan, our diet has bread as the centerpiece,” Yusuf Hag, a 29-year-old designer in Khartoum, told the Los Angeles Times on December 25. “And you can spend hours waiting for bread, and then when you get to the head of the line they tell you there isn’t anymore.”
Government officials have since stationed security guards outside of bakeries in what they claim to be an effort to maintain peace and prevent overselling.
Mass protests against rising bread prices in Sudan turned deadly with at least 8 people killed pic.twitter.com/OPsxYdoN2k— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) December 22, 2018
2. Past woes continue to wreak havoc.
The uprising that is occurring was spawned by a number of factors. One is the country's leader Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir. The other is the economic instability, high inflation, and extreme poverty the average person in Sudan is subjected to. Inflation is near 70 percent and the Sudanese pound's value is close to worthless. There are also fuel shortages in major cities like Khartoum, Omdurman, Port Sudan, Atbara, and Madani.
3. Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir's tenure has been marred by protests.
For nearly three decades, Sudan's president Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir promised to bring stability and economic prosperity to the struggling nation. He came to power in 1989 after a successful military coup during a time of Civil War. At the time, the nation was still dealing with current economic issues and food shortages but the people stood behind him because of renewed hope.
According to Al Jazeera, his tenure has been marred by protests, death, and incompetent leadership. Bashir was indicted on war crimes by the International Criminal Court in 2008 for atrocities and due to his part in the Darfur war in 2003. Sudan lost an estimated 75 percent of its oil revenue after South Sudan seceded in 2011.
Two years later, Bashir stumped out a wave of protests killing 200 people within a week because of rising austerity issues. The current string of protests has been met with heavy-handed tactics and disregard for bystanders.
Bashir called activists “traitors, agents, mercenaries and infiltrators,” said Tuesday to media. He claimed they were exploiting the country’s “economic difficulties to do sabotage in the service of Sudan’s enemies.”
“We know we have economic problems … but this is something we are capable of handling,” Bashir said.
4. The death toll rises.
As the revolt entered into the 10th day, reports estimated that at least 20 people died and 220 people were injured as of Thursday. "Nineteen people lost their lives in the incidents including two from security forces," government spokesman Boshara Juma said on state television on Thursday.
Earlier this week, Amnesty International reported 37 protesters were shot dead by security forces. Several opposition leaders were arrested including Siddiq Youssef, a senior leader of Sudan's Communist Party, and leaders from the pan-Arab Ba'ath and Nasserist parties. There were 14 others from the National Consensus Forces alliance arrested early on. The government attempted to curb protests by limiting internet access but ultimately the attempt backfired.
3G internet switched off by Sudanese government to prevent citizens using social media to organise more protests amidst civil unrest in #Sudan— Yousra Elbagir (@YousraElbagir) December 21, 2018
Worshippers in the cities of Khartoum, Omdurman, Port Sudan, Atbara and Madani exited Mosques following Friday prayers and took to the streets. CNN reports they were met with tear gas and force from Sudan's security forces.
5. The people are rising.
The United States removed Sudan from the infamous travel ban in 2017 and lifted the nation from a two-decade-long embargo. However, the nation has backed the U.S. in the Saudi-Yemeni war sending troops and fighting on the ground, The Washington Post reports. This is only one more issue. Activists are demanding the unpopular Bashir abdicate power so that a new, more competent government can restore the wellbeing of the nation.
Throughout the uprising, rural Sudanese citizens have united with professionals such as doctors and nurses. There are a number of reports stating professionals are striking for change. Meanwhile, Sadiq al-Mahdi, opposition leader of the Umma Party, is calling for an investigation into the killing of demonstrators.
It is unlikely Bashir will step down without putting up a fight. Marches to his presidential palace has meant very little. His party is encouraging him to run once again in 2020 violating constitutional term limits.
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