Sudan raises salaries for government workers amid protests

Thursday January 3 2019

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is facing growing pressure to resign following the country's economic crisis. PHOTO | AFP 

By MOHAMMED AMIN
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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said his government has increased salaries for civil servants as protests sparked by economic crisis continue to rock the country.

Mr Bashir, in power for 29 years and facing growing pressure to resign, said his government is also considering expanding health insurance benefits for all citizens.

“We ensured the increase of the salaries from this month, January, not the next month,” he said during a visit to the Sudanese Workers' Trade Unions Federation in Khartoum on Thursday.

High cost of living and government’s decision to raise the price of bread fuelled protests in major cities including the capital Khartoum the past two weeks.

At least 19 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the demonstrations that quickly turned into anti-government rallies calling for the president’s resignation.

His visit to the workers’ federation came just days after the Independent Professionals Union called for another march on Friday.

Sanctions

President Bashir has blamed the West and on United States sanctions for the country’s current economic crisis, pledging that Sudan would “overcome again”.

“You know how we been sanctioned and punished and classified as rogue and pariah state and until now we are still in the list of the countries that sponsor terrorism and that has reflected badly on us, as you know,” Mr Bashir said.

The US lifted its trade embargo imposed in the late 1990s on Sudan in October 2017 but kept Khartoum in its "state sponsors of terrorism" list along with Iran, Syria and North Korea.

Khartoum says being on blacklist makes international banks wary of doing business in Sudan and in turn hampers the country's economic revival.

The economic downturn is heightened by the loss of oil revenues since South Sudan seceded in 2011 taking with it the bulk of the crude earnings.

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