Sudan Sets State of Emergency in Atbara as Bread Outcry Spreads

(Bloomberg) -- Sudanese authorities declared a state of emergency in the River Nile state city of Atbara following protests in several cities against soaring bread prices and a shortage of commodities, according to spokesman Ibrahim Mukhtar.

Sudan has seen sporadic protests this year over rising living costs, with its currency devalued twice and some subsidies cut, which has led to the price of bread doubling. These have been part of austerity measures enacted to comply with International Monetary Fund recommendations for the economy still reeling from the loss of most of its oil when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

Protesters in Atbara set fire to the main office of the ruling party as well as the headquarters of the city government, eyewitnesses said. The demonstrations spread to other cities including Damar in River Nile state, Port Sudan in Red Sea and Medani in Gazira state, they said.

Prime Minister Mutaz Musa on Wednesday ruled out tax increases or removing subsidies on items such as wheat, medicines and cooking gas, while acknowledging the government’s difficulty in funding them.

Sudan plans to raise spending 39 percent, cutting its budget deficit to 3.3 percent from 3.7 percent, and reducing annual inflation to 27 percent from 69 percent in November.

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