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22 people reportedly killed and several wounded in protests over rising cost of bread in Sudan

A government decision to raise the price of bread has sparked protests around the country.

Image: DPA/PA Images

PROTESTS OVER THE rising cost of bread have claimed 22 lives in Sudan this week, the country’s opposition leader Sadiq al-Mahdi said today, although officials gave a lower death toll.

A government decision to raise the price of a loaf of bread from one Sudanese pound to three (from about two to five cent) sparked demonstrations across the country on Wednesday.

The protests first erupted in the eastern city of Atbara before spreading to Al-Qadarif, also in eastern Sudan, and then to the capital Khartoum and twin city Omdurman and other areas.

Two demonstrators were killed in Atbara and six others in Al-Qadarif, officials said on Thursday, as protesters torched offices of the ruling National Congress Party of President Omar al-Bashir.

But according to Mahdi “22 people were martyred and several others wounded”.

Speaking to reporters in Omdurman, on the west bank of the Nile, Mahdi said the protest movement “is legal and was launched because of the deteriorating situation in Sudan”.

He said that demonstrations will continue to rock Sudan.

Government spokesman Bashar Jumaa on Friday warned that authorities “will not be lenient” with those who set state buildings on fire or cause other damage to public property.

It was Mahdi’s first news conference since he returned to Sudan on Wednesday after almost a year in exile.

A fixture of Sudanese politics since the 1960s, Mahdi was prime minister from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1986 to 1989.

His government was the last one to be democratically elected in Sudan, before it was toppled by a 1989 coup launched by Bashir.

Sudan has been facing a mounting economic crisis over the past year.

The cost of some commodities has more than doubled, inflation is running at close to 70 percent and the pound has plunged in value.

Shortages have been reported for the past three weeks across several cities, including Khartoum.

Protests broke out in January over the rising cost of food, but they were soon brought under control with the arrest of opposition leaders and activists.

© – AFP 2019

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