KHARTOUM, 16 February 2021 – Seven regions of Sudan have declared states of emergency following violent protests against soaring food prices, news reports said Tuesday.
Food was looted from markets and shops, and buildings were vandalized and burnt during the protests which degenerated into riots.
The joint military-civilian interim government in Khartoum on Tuesday blamed the riots on supporters of ousted president Omar al-Bashir.
Judicial authorities in Khartoum recently ordered the prosecution of members of al-Bashir’s party.
Curfews have also been imposed and schools have been forced to close in ten cities across Darfur, North Kordofan, West Kordofan and Sennar.
Millions of people across Sudan are struggling to survive as the cost of living continues to rise amid economic difficulties and warnings of an impending famine.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) has said food insecurity could reach crisis levels in parts of Kordofan and Darfur in the coming months.
Inflation in the country increased to 269 percent in December 2020, up from 254 percent in November 2020, according to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
The cost of subsidized loaves of bread, which have become scarce, have increased from 2 pounds to 5 pounds, while unsubsidized bread is being sold in some areas of Khartoum for 15 or 20 pounds, and up to 50 pounds in Darfur and Kordofan.
Last January, the price of a kilogram of sugar was 220 pounds, up from 150 pounds at the end of 2020.
Khartoum is under pressure from its international partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to devalue its currency in order to secure loans.
The Sudanese government is resisting the call, arguing that devaluation will significantly raise its external debt burden as well as raise the price of all imports for a landlocked country, heavily dependent on imports.