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  • A bonfire sends up smoke during protests against price increases in Atbara, Sudan.

    A bonfire sends up smoke during protests against price increases in Atbara, Sudan. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 December 2018

As outrage spreads over dramatic rises in bread and fuel prices, demonstrators are calling for an overthrow of the government.

Thousands of protesters in Atbara city, in northeastern Sudan, rallied against rising food prices and government corruption Thursday, chanting anti-government slogans and setting fire to car tires as police used tear gas to disperse crowds.

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The government has declared a state of emergency and a curfew after protesters in a demonstration of hundreds set fire to the ruling party’s local headquarters Wednesday.

"I went out to protest because life has stopped in Atbara," a 36-year-old man, who had participated in the demonstration, told Reuters Thursday. He said he had not been able to buy bread for four days because it was no longer available in the shops.

Sudan’s economy has deteriorated dramatically in recent months. Inflation now stands at 69 percent and severe shortages of fuel and bread have forced people in the capital and other cities to form lines at bakeries and gas stations.

A decision to reduce bread subsidies earlier this year doubled prices and sparked rare nationwide protests.

"Prices have increased and I have still not been able to withdraw my November salary ... because of the liquidity crisis. These are difficult conditions that we can't live with, and the government doesn't care about us."

Smaller protests were also held in the cities of Dongola, Sennar and al-Qadarif Thursday, according to residents. In Dongola, protesters set fire to the local headquarters of the ruling party as well. Local market shop owners closed their stores.

In October, Sudan sharply devalued its currency after the government asked a body of banks and money changers to set the exchange rate on a daily basis.

The country’s economy was hit hard when the south of the country seceded and became South Sudan in 2011 after a brutal civil war. Upon secession, Sudan lost three-quarters of its oil output, a crucial source of foreign currency.

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