KHARTOUM (Reuters) - By Khaled Abdelaziz
Police in the capital of Sudan fired tear gas on Wednesday to disperse stone-throwing students protesting against a doubling of bread prices.
Police vehicles sealed off main roads leading to the university, forcing about 400 demonstrators onto the campus of Khartoum University, and continued to fire tear gas at the students who chanted “No, no to price rises”.
Street protests broke out across the sprawling northeast African country after bread prices doubled following a government announcement late last month that it was eliminating subsidies in its 2018 budget.
A high school student was killed and six others wounded on Sunday in the southwestern city of Geneina.
Sudan this month devalued its pound currency to 18 per U.S. dollar from 6.7 previously.
Hard currency remains scarce in the formal banking system however, forcing importers to resort to an increasingly expensive black market.
Amid the continuing unrest, the currency weakened to 30.5 pounds to the dollar on Tuesday on the black market, compared with 29.5 on Monday.
Addressing parliament on Wednesday, State Minister for Finance Magdi Hassan Yassin called price rises the result of “black market manipulation of the exchange rate” and said the ministry and central bank were working to shut it down, without specifying how.
Annual inflation stood at 24.76 percent in November, the latest available reading.
The government has ruled out floating its currency, a measure the International Monetary Fund has urged it to take as part of broader reforms it says are needed to attract investment and revive a reeling economy.
“The rise in prices is not related to the devaluation of the official exchange rate from 6.7 pounds to 18 pounds, because there have been government efforts to reduce the prices of staple consumer goods,” Yassin said.
Reporting by Khaled Abdelaziz; writing by Amina Ismail; editing by Andrew Roche