15 June 2012

Fuel protests coming in Khartoum?

The Sudanese Minister of Finance Ali Mahmoud told parliamentarians on Wednesday that the austerity measures the government is currently applying are a reflection of the level of “bankruptcy” in state coffers.
In a related context, a Sudanese political analyst has predicted that the ending of fuel subsidies will almost certainly lead to a popular uprising. 
According to Omer Abdel Aziz, a professor of political sciences, there is a likelihood of 95 percent that the decision will spark a popular uprising when it comes into effect. 
Sudanese opposition parties have already vowed to protest against the ending of fuel subsidies.

The size of the fuel subsidy about to be cut in Sudan is $2 billion a year. To put that in context, with a population of about 35 million people, the subsidy is roughly the same size as the one the government tried to cut recently in Nigeria, which was $8 billion a year across 158 million people. The abrupt removal of the subsidy in Nigeria led to widespread protest.

I really don't think it is at all clear that the Southern leadership is facing any more popular pressure than the Northern leadership over the economic implications of the oil shutdown. Hopefully a demilitarized border zone would allow an oil deal to be made.

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