south sudan

Sudan arrests communist leader over bread price protest

Hundreds of Sudanese demonstrate near presidential palace in response to a call by Communist Party

AFP
17:54 January 17, 2018

Khartoum: Sudanese security agents arrested the leader of the opposition Communist Party on Wednesday after it organised a protest in the capital Khartoum against rising bread prices, its spokesman told AFP.

Sporadic protests have erupted in parts of Sudan, including Khartoum, after bread prices more than doubled earlier this month following a jump in the cost of flour.

On Tuesday, hundreds of Sudanese demonstrated near the presidential palace in response to a call by the Communist Party.

Anti-riot police fired tear gas and beat protesters with batons to disperse the crowd.

Early on Wednesday, agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested the Communist Party’s leader, spokesman Ali Saeed said.

“Today, at 3am [0100 GMT], two trucks full of armed men from NISS came to the house of our general secretary Mokhtar al-Khatib and took him to an unknown location,” Saeed told AFP.

“We don’t know where he is but we do know that it was NISS that took him.”

Several other senior Communist Party figures, student leaders and activists have already been arrested since the bread price protests began.

The Communist Party said its members would continue to mobilise people and organise demonstrations, while the country’s main opposition Umma Party has called an anti-government demonstration for later on Wednesday.

The protests erupted after the cost of a 50kg sack of flour jumped from 167 Sudanese pounds to 450 as wheat supplies dwindled following the government’s decision to leave grain imports to private companies.

So far they have been sporadic and quickly broken up by security forces. A student was killed during a protest in the western region of Darfur on January 7.

Similar protests were held in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.

The authorities cracked down on those protests to prevent a repeat of the deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013.

Dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed the 2013 demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.