No State of Emergency for Sudan Over Austerity-Measures Protests

Article Summary
A Sudanese parliament leader rejected the imposition of emergency rule to deal with mounting protests over new budget austerity measures, but retained the right to "block attempts at sabotage" and threats to public safety. Imad Hassan reports that the authorities are downplaying the demonstrations, saying that they're incited by opposition parties.

The Sudanese parliament has ruled out the possibility of imposing a state of emergency to contain the recent demonstrations that erupted as a reaction to the new economic measures. The government continues to accuse the opposition of inciting the street to protest and denied that the phrase “elbow licking” was directed at the citizens.

The finance minister revealed the existence of foreign loans and announced that the school year would begin next week.

Deputy Parliament Speaker Samia Ahmed Mohamed said, “Peaceful protests do not need to be dealt with [through] a state of emergency.” She added, “The right to peaceful expression is guaranteed but it is natural for the authorities to block attempts at sabotage and threats to the safety of citizens.”

The Sudanese authorities accused the opposition parties of inciting the public to protest against the government. They also said that according to the law, they will face anyone who threatens public safety.

In the meantime, dozens of Atbara Cement workers staged a sit-in to protest their low wages and the fact that the president’s grant, which is intended to ease the citizens’ burdens, has not been paid yet. They also protested the firing of one of their co-workers.

There have been conflicting reports regarding the sit-in. Some reports said that the sit-in will end after two hours with the protesters sending a letter to the factory manager demanding higher wages and the application of the presidential grant, which gives about 100 Sudanese pounds to each worker. Other reports said that the sit-in will continue until the worker who was fired for demanding a better working environment is reinstated and wages are raised concurrently with the austerity measures. The austerity measures that are being imposed by the state are meant to mitigate the economic crisis.

Presidential Advisor Mustafa Osman Ismail accused a satellite channel of exaggerating the size of the recent protests. He considered them to be only small marches and said that the Sudanese people have not been responsive to them. He also pointed out that he was moving about in the capital without a bodyguard and claimed that the opposition parties want to use the protests to further their own agendas.

Ismail denied that presidential assistant Nafeh Ali Nafeh’s phrase “elbow licking” was directed at the people. Instead, Nafeh’s comment was directed at the opposition, which Ismail says has no popular support. Ismail acknowledged that the country is going through a difficult economic phase but stressed that the citizens understand the situation and have not been responsive to the opposition parties’ agendas.

In a striking development, the Khartoum province government announced that preparations for next Sunday’s resumption of the academic year are completed. They also confirmed that the students’ seats have been assigned and the first batch of textbooks has been printed. Additionally, the required number of teachers have been hired. The governor of Khartoum province, Abdul Rahman Khodr, announced that the school year in the province will begin on schedule on Sunday, July 8. During his inspection of the textbook-printing operation, he said, “We are ready for the academic year.”

Found in: sudan, protests, khartoum, israel, austerity

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