Sudan's Leader Issues Decrees to Curb Protests, Black Market

(Bloomberg) -- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir introduced decrees to ban unauthorized protests and a 10-year jail term for illegal trade in fuel and wheat, in a bid to quell a wave of discontent threatening his three-decade regime.

The decrees introduce emergency courts to try suspected offenders, and restrict trade in other items including foreign currency and gold, the Khartoum-based presidency said in a statement on Monday. Unauthorized circulation of information, photos or documents that belong to the president’s family is prohibited, according to the statement.

The decrees come less than a week after al-Bashir declared a state of emergency following more than two months of nationwide protests against soaring living costs amid fuel and wheat shortages. The president called for a national dialogue with an opposition that is demanding he resign. It’s the biggest challenge yet to al-Bashir’s leadership since he seized power in a 1989 Islamist-backed coup.

Security personnel are now permitted to search property and people, as well as confiscate money they suspect was used in illegal trade.

Western nations should urge Sudanese authorities to establish a broad-based transitional government for a limited period of time to implement reforms ahead of elections scheduled for 2020, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said Tuesday in a statement on its website. The transitional government should exclude al-Bashir, who heads the National Congress Party, it said.

“Because of the dominance of the ruling NCP and the dysfunction of mainstream opposition parties, most protest leaders have good reason to think holding credible elections in 2020 is not possible and are asking for a multi-year transitional government that can hold freer elections in two or three years,” according to the statement.

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