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Sudan’s clerical body supports right to protest against bread price rise

Protesters chanting anti Bashir slogans during a demonstration in Madani triggered by a rise in the cost of bread on Friday 5 January 2017 (ST Photo)

January 11, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s main clerical authority, the Sudan Scholar Corporation (SSC) called on the Sudanese government to grant the absolute right to protest peacefully against its recent decision to increase bread prices.

Sudanese police and security forces have violently dispersed peaceful demonstrations and arrested protesters who took to the streets in different states against the government decision to double the price of one loaf of bread from half Sudanese pounds to one pound.

Several opposition figures and protesters have been arrested by the security forces and a student was killed others wounded Sunday in a wave of mass protests that swept through West Darfur State capital, El-Geneina.

In a rare move against the government, the SSC issued a statement Thursday saying the government had the responsibility to provide food to its citizens particularly in the time of distress and trouble.

The religious body further said the people have the right to express its rejection of price increases, stressing that the right to demonstrate "is guaranteed under the Constitution and the law, and cannot be denied."

It went further to call on the government to avoid such move and instead to cut government spending drastically especially in the privileges and allocations of the executive, legislative and diplomatic organs.

The increase of bread prices comes in line with the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund to bringing redress to the ailing Sudanese economy which is also impacted by the heavy cost of civil war and lack of political stability.

In a related development, the European Union Delegation and EU diplomatic Mission in Sudan issued a statement on Thursday to where they expressed their concern over the detention of a number of political leaders as result of the protests against the economic measure.

"We consider it crucial that people are permitted to exercise their right to freedom of expression, including freedom of the media and of political participation. At the same time, we urge those exercising their fundamental rights to express their opinions peacefully," said the EU diplomats

The European Union is committed to a stable, democratic and prosperous future for Sudan, for the benefit of its people, and will continue its work with all the stakeholders with this objective firmly in mind," further reads the statement.