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Sudan pledges wage rise in bid to calm protesters

© Photo: AFP

Video by Djamel Eddine ALI

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-30

The government of Sudan has promised to give cash stipends to needy families and raise salaries following a wave of protests that have been met with a deadly crackdown and a media blackout.

The government of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Sunday promised cash handouts and a rise in wages amid unprecedented protests calling for him to step down. However, the regime said it would not backtrack on a cut to fuel subsidies that first sparked the deadly unrest.

At least 50 people have died in clashes during the past week between thousands of protesters and police, according to international rights groups.

The unrest began in the city of Wad Madani south of the capital Khartoum on September 23, but quickly spread to at least nine districts in Khartoum and seven cities across the country.

In a move aimed at pacifying a frustrated public, the government said it would distribute one-off payments to families in need, boost public sector salaries starting in October and raise the minimum wage in January.

Protests in Khartoum on Sunday were smaller than in previous days, according to reports, but families of victims from previous clashes pledged to continue pressure until Bashir stepped down.

A memorial for a protester slain on Friday gathered around 3,000 people in Khartoum on Sunday, witnesses said.

The fuel austerity measure has been driven by a financial crunch since the secession of oil-producing South Sudan in 2011, which deprived Sudan of three-quarters of its oil revenues.

Schools and newspapers closed

Still concerned over lingering protests, the Education Ministry said on Sunday that schools will remain shut until October 20. High school students have led many protests in different districts in the capital.

Sudanese authorities have also clamped down on the media. The country’s largest daily newspaper, Al-Intibaha, has been forced to stop printing, according to the paper’s website, after the offices of Gulf-based satellite networks Al-Arabiya and Sky News Arabia were ordered shut.
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Several dailies have come under pressure to depict demonstrators as “saboteurs,” according to reports.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya Sunday, Sudan’s Foreign Minister defended the media blackout, claiming “media make revolutions,” the Associate Press reported.

“If the revolution is created by media, we have to be serious in dealing with it,” he said from New York, where he was attending the United Nations General Assembly.

Date created : 2013-09-30

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