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Sudan’s coup-hit economy in free fall as prices bite

KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudanese schoolteacher Babiker Mohamed barely covers his family’s needs with his meagre income, but since last year’s military coup he no longer knows if he can even keep afloat.

Like many in Sudan, Mohamed has been grappling with shortages in basic goods, as well as new taxes and steep price hikes on fuel, electricity and food since an October military coup led by Army Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

“I used to buy 20 loaves of bread at SDG100 before the coup,” Mohamed, who provides for a family of six, told AFP.

“Bread alone now costs me around SDG27,000 a month, which is like 90 per cent of my salary” of about SDG30,000 (USD50), he said. “I don’t know if I can afford to send my children to school anymore.”

Mohamed joined teachers who went on strike this week against the worsening living conditions.

Sudan’s latest coup upended a transition painstakingly negotiated between civilian and military leaders following the 2019 ouster of president Omar al-Bashir, whose rule was marked by crippling United States (US) sanctions and international isolation.

Protesters in northern Sudan block a key trade route between Egypt and their country. PHOTO: AFP

It also triggered international condemnation and punitive measures, with the US, World Bank and International Monetary Fund suspending badly needed aid to the impoverished country.

Sudanese exports have sharply declined, foreign currency shortages have been reported, and efforts by local banks to re-establish ties with international counterparts in the US and the West came to a screeching halt.

“It’s like the embargo was back since October 25,” said economist Sumaya Sayed.

Protesters staged several rallies this week against the decline in living conditions.

Sudanese citizens have for decades endured severe economic hardship due to government mismanagement, internal conflicts and the 2011 secession of the oil-rich south.

Bashir himself was ousted in April 2019 following months of street protests initially triggered by the tripling of bread prices.

A spokesman for the association of bakery owners in Khartoum, Essameddine Okasha, said bread prices have surged “beyond people’s reach”.

He attributed the hikes to increasing operational costs.