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Khartoum postpones decision to lift fuel subsides

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September 15, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government postponed the removal of subsides on several basic commodities as the ruling National Congress Party said its lift should intervene after the end of consultations with the political forces and civil society groups.

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Sudan finance and national economy minister Ali Mahmood Abdel-Rasool (Reuters)

The sudden delay follows rumours about sharp divergences within the government about these unpopular decisions which are seen necessary by the finance minister but disastrous by other members who fear that it will push people to take to the street against the regime.

The Sudanese government cancelled an extraordinary cabinet meeting scheduled to be held on Sunday to endorse the increase of prices of basic commodities including fuel, without further explanations.

However the finance minister Ali Mahmoud denied on Sunday that the cancellation is related to fears of demonstrations to protest such measures. The Sudanese people showed patience and accepted decision biggest and toughest than the removal of subsides, he said.

However, NCP media secretary Yasir Youssef told reporters following a meeting of the political sector of the ruling party that the announcement of these economic reforms depends on the completion of consultations with the political forces.

He added that proposed economic measures are not only a program of the ruling party, but is a program of all parties participating in the government.

He called on the opposition political forces to be responsible adding they "should differentiate between national and strategic issues and the short-term political tactics".

Sudan’s official news agency reported that president Omer Al-Bashir met Sunday with the leader of the NCP’s main governing partner the Democratic Unionist Party, Mohamed Osman Al-Mirghani, to discuss political partnership, political and economic reforms.

Different sources in Khartoum say the government delayed the implementation of the decision following recommendations from the security apparatus which reported a situation of public discontent against the government.

The Sudanese opposition umbrella organisation known as the National Consensus Forces (NCF) announced that it is planning to organise public sit-ins to resist the government’s anticipated decision.

Also, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front, an alliance of rebel groups, issued a statement calling on their supporters inside the country to protest against the economic reforms.

Last week, the Sudanese ministry of finance and national economy formally announced its intention to lift fuel subsidies in the coming days after receiving clearance from the government.

According to local press reports published in Khartoum on Saturday, the Sudanese cabinet was supposed to hold an extraordinary session on Sunday during which it would formally endorse the move.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) leadership council chaired by president Al-Bashir has already agreed to the package in a meeting held last week.

(ST)

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