Sudanese opposition leaders arrested as bread protests persist

Sunday December 23 2018

A bonfire is lit along the street during protests against price increases in Atbara

A bonfire is lit along the street during protests against price increases in Atbara, River Nile State, Sudan, on December 20, 2018. PHOTO | REUTERS 

MOHAMMED AMIN
By MOHAMMED AMIN
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Sudanese authorities Saturday arrested 14 opposition leaders as anti-government protests fuelled by an economic crisis continued for the fourth day across the country.

The spokesman for the National Consensus Forces (NCF), Mr Fathi Fadul, told The EastAfrican that the chairman Farouq Abu Issa and 13 other leaders were apprehended after a meeting in Omdurman.

“The security organs have arrested most of the leadership of the NCF opposition alliance after a meeting in Omdurman, the twin city of the capital Khartoum. Among the arrested is the head of the NCF Farouq Abu Issa,” he said.

NCF is one of two main opposition groups, the other being Umma Party led by former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi who has backed the protests.

Sudan has been facing mounting economic crisis over the past year with inflation rising to 69 percent and the cost of basic commodities more than doubled.

Latest protests were sparked by the government's decision to increase the price of bread from one Sudanese pound to three (from about two to six US cents).

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According to the authorities, eight demonstrators died in Atbara and Al-Qadarif cities in eastern Sudan, a figure refuted by the opposition claiming 22 lives have been lost as police clashed with protestors since Wednesday.

Israel

Meanwhile, Khartoum has accused Israel of supporting rebels and opposition groups to torch government and ruling party buildings as part of their effort to overthrow President Omar al Bashir's regime.

Sudan presidential assistant Faisal Hassan told reporters in Khartoum that the authorities are holding a Member of Parliament from Northern State alleged to be part of the conspiracy with Israel.

Mr Hassan said the protests were "coordinated and organised".

The government has deployed the army to guard "strategic locations in all Sudanese regions," he added.

Schools and universities have also been closed after students joined in the protests leaving one dead in Atbara.

There are also reports of internet inaccessibility in parts of the country.

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