Protests in Sudan after IMF approved Ksh.269.8 billion loan

Protests in Sudan after IMF approved $2.5 billion loan

Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in Sudan’s capital Khartoum to demand the transitional government resign over controversial International Monetary Fund, (IMF), economic reforms, seen as too harsh.

The public discontent has mounted over the reforms that slashed subsidies on petrol and diesel, more than doubling their price, according to an AFP correspondent report.

The protesters who had gathered in Khartoum burned tires and brandished banners that read “bread for the poor” before police dispersed them with tear gas.

IMF on Tuesday approved a $2.5 billion loan for Sudan, and with the World Bank, sealing a landmark deal that unlocks nearly Ksh.5.3 trillion (US$50 billion) in debt relief for the impoverished African nation.

The 39-month IMF extended credit facility loan program will give Khartoum $1.4 billion in immediate funds. 

Sudan has been led by a transitional civilian-military administration since August 2019.

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The government has taken measures to fix the country’s economy battered by decades of mismanagement, internal conflict, and international sanctions under Bashir.

The measures have included floating its currency, starting to address heavy government subsidies, particularly on fuel, and seeking investment from international donors.

However, some measures also threaten to further exacerbate and already worse situation for the country’s poorest, and have faced opposition from pro-democracy activists who led the popular uprising against al-Bashir who ruled the country for nearly 30 years.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok praised Sudan’s people for their “patience” and “endurance”. “We are on the right track,” the premier said in a televised speech after the IMF announcement of the debt relief deal.

Ahead of the protests, Sudanese authorities said they arrested 79 people suspected of links to Bashir’s regime for allegedly planning violence.

Wednesday’s demonstrations coincided with the anniversary of an Islamist-backed military coup that brought Bashir to power more than 30 years ago.

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