Austerity measures fuel discontent in Sudan - The Stream on AlJazeera
• Key medicines no longer available in Sudan
• Other medicines 150-300% more expensive in one month
• Protests started in late November
Tension are high as Sudan’s government tries to resolve the country’s economic troubles. Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan’s economy has struggled to recover after losing three-quarters of its oil production. Additionally, rising inflation and US sanctions are adding to the discontent.
Protests started in late November. Hundreds of pharmacies closed their doors and went on strike last month in solidarity with protesters and in response to the rising costs of medicine.
The Sudanese people have also been using several hashtags in Arabic and English, like #SudanCivilDisobedience, to share how they have been affected by austerity measures, fuel subsidy cuts and price increases in medication, food and electricity.
Speaking to The Stream on Al Jazeera English yesterday from Khartoum, pharmacist Samahir Mubarak said, “The price hikes are not bearable. The prices were high before the hikes and right now it is even worse. It has been 150-300% increases in the prices of medicine in the past month only. These decisions have been catastrophic; they have been unbearable and the entire health sector is bearing the brunt of these decisions.”
It��s not just that people are no longer able to afford their heart medicine and other treatments; Mubarak listed a variety of medications that are no longer “to be found anywhere in Sudan,” including emergency epilepsy medications, asthma inhalers, and tetanus, rabies and scorpion antidotes.
Mekki El-Mograbi, media counselor at the Embassy of Sudan in Washington, blamed the situation on the economic crisis. “No one doubts there is an economy crisis in Sudan. There are economy crises in the region and other countries. These economy crises made this situation.”
While El-Mograbi largely blamed these economic crises on sanctions, commentator Ahmed Kodouda blamed the sanctions on the government.
Kodouda added, “The Sudanese government right now put itself in this corner. For the past five years, it recognized there is a 75% deficit in oil revenues. It did not prepare for this period. It in fact systematically destroyed or neglected rather the agriculture sector, which is historically the power base of the Sudanese economy. So when we’re talking about the economic crisis Sudan is facing, we have to understand that there are very important failures on behalf of the government, when it comes to creating the polices that allow for the economy to survive post such a severe shock, such as a the one that happened in 2011.”
Activist Ahmad Mahmoud also criticized the government for the failure to reach peace terms with the rebels. “If you stop this war, you are saving money.”
Watch and embed the full debate at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwgvBwHDb6Q.
For more information, visit http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201612060005-0025331 or follow the social media discussion on #ajstream and #sudancivildisobedience.