In Sudan, thousands protest economic woes, military rule

March 17, 2022 GMT

CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese riot police fired teargas at thousands who took to the streets on Thursday in the capital, Khartoum, to protest deteriorating economic conditions following last year’s military coup.

The cash-stripped country has been facing a dire economic situation since the October military takeover. Videos posted on the social media show protesters marching under clouds of tear gas towards the Republican Palace, the seat of the military government.

On Wednesday, the state-owned news agency SUNA reported that the inflation rate reached nearly 260% in February, quoting the country’s census agency. Earlier this month, the country’s Central Bank floated the Sudanese pound — a move expected to result in a swift increase in prices.

The ruling generals have been struggling to stabilize the country; their coup has upended Sudan’s democratic transition after a popular uprising forced the military to remove autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Following the military takeover, Western governments and world financial institutions suspended their assistance to Sudan in order to pressure the generals to return a civilian-led government.

Sudan has for years struggled with an array of economic woes, including a huge budget deficit and widespread shortages of essential goods and soaring prices of bread and other staples. The country descended into economic crisis when the oil-rich south seceded in 2011 after decades of war, taking with it more than half of public revenues and 95% of exports.

Thursday’s rallies were called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the Resistance Committees, which have been the backbone of the uprising against al-Bashir and relentless anti-coup protests in the past three months. Protesters also chanted slogans against Sudan’s top military ruler Abdel-Fattah Burhan.

“The existing regime has no legitimacy. The Sudanese people want a national, civilian and democratic government,” said Hussein al-Safy, who was at the protest.