Sudan: No Reinstating Fuel Subsidies, Despite Protests

Posted June 25th, 2012 at 1:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Sudan's finance minister says the government will stick to its plan to end fuel subsidies, despite 10 days of protests against that decision and other austerity measures.

Ali Mahmoud told reporters Monday that Khartoum “will not retreat” from the decision to halt the subsidies, which had kept fuel prices low in Sudan. He said if international oil prices go up, prices will increase in Sudan as well.

Police used tear gas and batons to break up a demonstration Monday by about 200 people in the eastern town of Gedaref. Witnesses say the protesters chanted slogans against high prices and the Sudanese government.

Similar protests have taken place in Khartoum and other cities since last week, when President Omar al-Bashir announced radical spending cuts to close a $2.4 billion budget deficit.

Government revenue has declined sharply since neighboring South Sudan shut down oil production in January, after refusing to pay high fees to use northern pipelines.

South Sudan took about three-quarters of Sudan's oil fields when it became independent a year ago. Negotiations to resolve the pipeline dispute have gone nowhere.

Sudan's finance minister has previously said the country is bankrupt and warned that inflation is rising rapidly.