Police use tear gas on anti-austerity protesters

Sudan's finance minister: No re-pricing of fuel products

GMT 08:00 2012 Monday ,02 July

Arab Today, arab today Sudan's finance minister: No re-pricing of fuel products

Sudan's Minister of Finance, Ali Mahmoud
Khartoum - Abed Algayom Ashmeag

Sudan's Minister of Finance, Ali Mahmoud Sudan's Minister of Finance, Ali Mahmoud, said Sunday that the governmental reserves and bank accounts were now closed, and funds redirected to Sudan's Central Bank to support the general budget, as per the economic reform plan.
Speaking from the ruling National Congress Party headquarters in Khartoum, Mahmoud denied that the government planned to re-price fuel products, saying the establishment expected an increase in Sudan's oil production. "So, we will avoid importing fuel products sold at international prices, leaving no need for a change in prices," he said.
The minister said that the results of the government's economic reform plan would not be gauged until a year had passed, as it depended on expected rises in the revenues of productive sectors, especially gold, oil, wheat and sugar. He also announced that a new project for the sugar industry in the White Nile province was expected to reduce the country's sugar imports by 200,000 tonnes a year.
In another development, President Omar al-Bashir is expected to chair a meeting for members of the NCP leadership on Monday. The meeting is believed to discuss the current political unrest in the country, amid daily public protests which broke out first against the lifting of fuel subsidies and other austerity measures applied by the government.
The formation of a new government is also expected to be announced. The cabinet was supposed to be announced a week ago, but the announcement was delayed for further discussions with parties that will form a coalition with the NCP.  
Sudanese police fired teargas at protesters angered by rising prices on Sunday, witnesses said, while a senior official accused "Zionist institutions" of fanning the anti-government demonstrations which echo Arab Spring unrest elsewhere.
For two weeks, anti-austerity protesters have been calling for the resignation of the government of President Bashir, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders.
Sudan lost three-quarters of its oil output after South Sudan gained independence last year, forcing the government to impose cuts that have hit Sudanese who were already grappling with soaring inflation and a weakening currency.
On Sunday, police fired teargas and used batons to break up a protest of more than 250 people in the Ombada shantytown area, one of Khartoum's poorest neighbourhoods, witnesses said.
The protesters chanted "No, no to rising prices", threw rocks at police and blocked a main street before security forces dispersed them, the witnesses said.
The police were not immediately available to comment, but have repeatedly denied using excessive force against protesters.
Earlier on Sunday, presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie was quoted as blaming the unrest on a conspiracy to provoke an "economic earthquake" in Sudan.
"Zionist institutions inside the United States and elsewhere ... are exploiting the latest economic decisions to destabilise the security and political situation," the state-linked Sudanese Media Centre quoted him as saying.
Nafie said the government had evidence of collusion between rebel groups in Darfur, politicians in arch-foe South Sudan and Zionist institutions in the United States to sabotage Sudan. He did not present the evidence.
The demonstrations have rarely gathered more than a few hundred people at a time, but have been an added pressure for Bashir's government, already trying to contain the economic crisis and multiple armed insurgencies.
Police used teargas to put down protests in several neighbourhoods in Khartoum on Friday.
The Sudanese Commission for Defence of Freedoms and Rights estimated on Sunday that 1000 people had been arrested since the protests began.
Demonstrators have chanted the widespread Arab Spring refrain: "The people want the downfall of the regime."
Unexpectedly, there was no official ceremony on Saturday to mark the 23rd anniversary of Bashir's bloodless coup.
Instead, Bashir attended the opening of a shopping mall in central Khartoum. Sudanese media reported the state would donate 20 percent of revenues from the mall to the poor.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, charges Sudan has dismissed as baseless and politically motivated.

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