Sudan saw a weekend of protesters returning to the streets,
this time to march against unpopular austerity measures. The
protests were reportedly initiated on June 16 by female
students at the University of Khartoum, in response to price
increases for meals and transportation. A speech by President
Omar Al Bashir discussed the measures, including reduction of
fuel subsidies and cuts to regional governments, and did
little to appease the demonstrations.
[This video from the protests uploaded Sunday shows students
being teargassed and chanting, "The people want the downfall
of the regime". http://youtu.be/4k7jHObBQds ]
Ending fuel subsidies is particularly contentious due to fears
of further fueling inflation, which is already at 30 per cent.
Though previous demonstrations at the University of Khartoum
have not gained momentum among the broader population,
opposition politicians reportedly said they too will protest
the planned end to fuel subsidies.
Pictures tweeted by Sudanese activists showed demonstrators
met with force by university police. The protests spread to
other universities and to other parts of Khartoum.
As the protests continued without attention from international
media, the lack of coverage was a focus of netizens'
Members of the group Girifna ("We are fed up") have been a
center of activist opposition to the government, with many
detained by security services over the past year. Along with
other groups, they are calling for a general protest on June
Though protests have continued throughout the year, they have
not approached the level of intensity that toppled the
governments of other North African countries.
Many have questioned over the past year why Sudan's protests
have not gained momentum. Blogger Yousif Elmahdi wrote about
this topic in a post, "Sudan: Are We a Failed Nation?":
We all know Sudan is a failed state, but does the fact
that we continue to do nothing make us a failed
nation? Most Sudanese would gladly swap their current
plight for that of Arab Spring nations prior to their
uprisings. Why are we so reluctant to take a stand?
Some say hopelessness - convinced of a lack of
prospect for change, acquiescing, waiting for reform,
or broadening their definition of a silver lining in
desperate search of solace. Others wait for the
opposition to mobilize - in itself hopeless. Even
strong opposition would struggle for traction; some
may play orchestrating roles in directing momentum
once it builds but the majority will do little more
than jump on the bandwagon. The favorite of the NCP
propaganda machine is fear of the alternative, a
notion many have adopted but becomes increasingly
difficult to accept when faced with reality.
Others said anti-government protests did not gain traction
because of the split created by the independence of South
Sudan. Tensions between the two countries over oil revenues,
which came almost exclusively from the South, have played a
major part in worsening Sudan's economic woes.
Many of the activists involved believe the recent protests are
a turning point.
The Stream covered the challenges facing Sudan and South Sudan
six months after separation and interviewed blogger Amir Ahmad
and human rights activist Dalia Haj-Omar on the way forward
for the country. You can watch the episode below:
[photo credit - @AJStream pic.twitter.com/u0t1I6A8 ]