Sudan has drawn a lot of media attention in the past few months because of ongoing public protests across the country. The protests broke out on December 19, 2019 initially as result of the tripling of the price of bread. The country is currently faced with severe economic decline which has led to a steep increase in the price of basic goods. This is in part what has led to discontentment. As a result of the protests, curfews were issued and schools closed.
The increased level of economic decline in the country has led to a high inflation rate of about 70%. The Sudanese people greatly frustrated by all these have turned their attention to President Omar al-Bashir who has ruled Sudan for 30 years and have been calling for him to step down.
Many people have been killed and others arrested and detained by the police. According to Amnesty International about 45 people have died so far. Among the people detained were journalists, activists and civilians. On Thursday, February 7, many more people gathered to demand the release of those detained and to show solidarity to their fellow protesters. As a result of the reports of human rights violations against protestors, there were calls from the international community for justice for the detained and for the police to protect the Sudanese’s rights to peacefully protest.
After cries for justice from the international community, the President al-Bashir and the Sudanese government have taken a more conciliatory response to the demands of the protesters. President al-Bashir promised to release those who have been detained. However, he downplayed the fact protesters are young, old and from all walks of life and professions and simply said that most of them are youth who were disgruntled by the lack of jobs and opportunities and women who were unhappy about the public order law which obviously sets unfair parameters for women’s dress code in order to protect morality. Also, Prime Minister, Moataz Moussa said in response to the protests that the concerns of the people are “legitimate and the government is working towards it”.
Furthermore, Sudan has been suffering economically mainly because they have been blacklisted by the US and is on the list of States sponsors of terrorism. Because of this, their ability to engage in international transactions is highly restricted. Also, we cannot overlook the fact that Sudan’s debt amounts to $55 billion. The country is pushing for normalized bilateral relations with the United States. According to Voice of America, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Chair of the U.S House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa said that Sudan’s repression of peaceful protesters can and will potentially undermine the process of re-establishing relations with the US, get rid of sanctions and be taken off the state sponsors of terrorism list.
Written by: Adwoa Ohemeng
Edited by: Bahati