Saudi Arabia Latest Nation to Offer Help to Crisis-Hit Sudan

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia became the latest country to offer economic support to Sudan, as anti-government protests sparked by soaring living costs in the northern African nation rage for their sixth week.

“The king confirmed that Saudi Arabia wouldn’t hesitate to support Sudan until it overcomes the current situation,” Saudi Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qasabi told reporters Thursday in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. He said his country has provided 8 billion riyals ($2.1 billion) in the past four years, “and we wouldn’t hesitate in supporting Sudan at anytime.”

Al-Qasabi didn’t say what form any potential assistance could take. “The Saudi king also stressed that the security and stability of Sudan is part of Saudi Arabia’s security and stability, so we are here to confirm our full support to our brothers,” he said.

The Saudi official’s visit came a day after Qatar expressed its support for President Omar al-Bashir’s government and Sudan’s oil minister said Russia and Turkey had offered economic assistance. The United Arab Emirates has also provided Sudan with $300 million in financing and 1.12 million tons of fuel, according to a Sudanese newspaper and a ruling party lawmaker.

Rocketing prices for bread and shortages of fuel and other commodities have sparked a wave of protests across Sudan since Dec. 19, with Amnesty International accusing authorities of a “deadly onslaught” on demonstrators. The unrest has posed one of the greatest challenges to al-Bashir since he took power in a 1989 Islamist-backed coup.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors said two student protesters were killed Thursday in the greater Khartoum area. The government has acknowledged 26 deaths since the demonstrations began, while Amnesty has put the toll at more than 40.

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