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Sudan's people need our solidarity

THE arrest of Sudanese communist leader Muhammad Mukhtar al-Khatieb at 3am yesterday morning indicates panic on behalf of authorities in Khartoum.

They face a swelling popular revolt against a new Budget which — by cutting electricity and flour subsidies and withdrawing state regulation of the market — is leading to soaring prices for some of life’s essentials.

Demonstrations highlighting the rising cost of bread have been growing in the African country for days, but Tuesday saw the largest yet after Investment Minister Mubarak al-Fadil vowed that the government would “not be changing the policies and measures of the 2018 Budget.”

That Budget has been imposed on the “advice” of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, seizing on the end of longstanding US sanctions on Sudan to convince the Omar Bashir regime that bygones can be bygones if it restructures its economy on neoliberal lines. It has raised the cost of basic foodstuffs tenfold.

Thousands took to the streets — only to be met with what the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), which called Tuesday’s march, describes as a “brutal assault.”

Eyewitnesses describe security forces rounding up marchers and beating them. Scores of activists from a range of opposition parties have been seized. Aside from Khatieb, fellow communists Siddig Yousif, Mohiedean Algalad and Zohier Ahmed are under arrest.

This terror matches the bloody record of a government headed by a man wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court over the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths in Darfur.

“In this confrontation between the regime and the masses, the dictatorial regime has resorted to policies aiming at suppressing and oppressing the growing protests,” the SCP says.

Four activists are believed to have died even before Tuesday’s march, which was conducted peacefully and in silence to deny Khartoum any excuse for labelling the demonstrators rioters or disturbers of the peace.

The repression is par for the course — Sudan’s communists have long faced persecution, including a siege of their headquarters by police last November during a general strike and bans and confiscations of its newspaper Al-Midan.

But the scale of the protests and the range of other organisations joining in — from the Islamist-leaning National Umma Party to parties representing minority groups and women’s rights organisations — is dramatic and makes the SCP’s call for the “widest coalition to overthrow the regime and create a democratic alternative” a realistic one.

The Morning Star sends its solidarity to the people of Sudan at this time of crisis and to the socialists and communists risking their lives for a better future. Maximum pressure must be put on the Sudanese government to release its prisoners.

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