Sudan’s Economic Catastrophe Brings Country to the Brink: A Compendium of Very Recent Reports


For several years I have chronicled the slow demise of the Sudanese economy, a task necessary because there is no international reporting of significance and the IMF has essentially abandoned all oversight responsibility. Indeed, no international actor has been more irresponsible than the IMF in failing to warn about Sudan’s economic collapse. Here the most telling revelation is a statement by IMF Mission Chief for Sudan, Edward Gemayel:

Mr. Edward Gemayel, the IMF’s Mission Chief for Sudan noted that “Sudan has a long track record of implementing sustainable economic policies.” (IMF press release | http://www.4-traders.com/news/IMF-International-Monetary-Fund-Press-Release-Sudan-Meeting-of-the-Technical-Working-Group-on-E–17345158/

It is impossible to imagine a more foolishly destructive assessment of an economy whose present collapse has become increasingly inevitable—and was well on its way before Gemayel’s preposterous statement.

The present, rapidly accelerating economic and political crisis has been clear to those who would only look, although this viewership has been perversely small, and includes primarily Sudanese economists, mainly in the diaspora and whose views are reported almost exclusively by Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune. For my own assessments going back to 2014 (and earlier) see especially:

  • “Watching the Bubble Burst: Political Implications of Sudan’s Economic Implosion,” Enough Project Forum publication, 17 September 2014 | http://www.enoughproject.org/reports/enough-forum-watching-bubble-burst

• “Kleptocracy in Khartoum: Self-enrichment by the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party,” December 2015

| https://enoughproject.org/files/EnoughForum_KleptocracyInKhartoum_Reeves_Dec2015.pdf

Economic collapse is accelerating rapidly, with the catastrophic 2018 national budget the catalyst, having already produced inflation in prices of some critical consumer commodities by 300%. Protests are now rippling across Sudan, and the first casualty in a protest demonstration has now been reported; there have also been many injuries, most from the grossly disproportionate and excessive use of teargas, including security forces hurling tear-gas grenades in residences where children are present. Half of Sudan’s 18 states have now been put under “stage of emergency” orders.

The regime is in no position to rescue the economy or to reverse the surging inflation—coming on top of what was already been for 2017 a year-over-year inflation rate in excess of 50%. The Central Bank of Sudan is estimated to have only enough exchange currency (Forex) for a month and a half of imports—including wheat, which is now imported rather than grown domestically, this despite the abundant tracts of fertile land in Sudan. Radio Dabanga reported on January 7, 2018 that Sudan “imported more than two million tons of wheat at a cost on $1.5 billion in 2015,” the last year for which there are records available.

The immensely burdensome increase in the costs of flour, and thus bread, has produced acute shortages and long lines—and fantastic prices increases. As I’ve said, popular anger can be traced readily in the days following the announcement of the 2018 budget that has served as catalyst for explosive anger.

Will popular anger be enough to overcome fear of the willingness of the regime to use methods as brutal as issuing “shoot to kill” orders? That question is being answered on a daily basis; here a survey of dispatches going back to December 21, 2017—the time at which the budget was announced:

[1] Intensifying Censorship is Key Part of Khartoum Regime’s Response to Popular Uprising

Eric Reeves | January 9, 2018 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2bx

As protests increase throughout Sudan, news reporting of popular outrage over catastrophic price hikes for basic commodities also increases; the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime is determined to continue with its present policy of ever-greater censorship. “Red lines” are becoming more restrictive, more crushing of news reporting:

• More newspapers seized for covering Sudan price protests | Radio Dabanga, January 9, 2018 | KHARTOUM

More newspapers have also been confiscated for neglecting directives of the security apparatus to the press not to report on the demonstrations against Sudan’s price hikes.

Print-runs of El Jareeda and El Baath newspapers were seized from the printing press, Mohamed Widaa, editor-in-chief of Baath and also spokesman for the political Arab Baath party, told Radio Dabanga. This brings the total number of seized newspapers that went against the security service’s directives and covered the street protests in the past two days to eight.

“The reason was that Baath dealt with the news of the demonstrations and the surge of prices,” Widaa said. “But there is no respected newspaper to be issued without this news.” He stressed their commitment to moral principles and respect for the reader the Sudanese people. “This makes it imperative for us to publish the news, even if we see that it would make [the security service] want to confiscate the newspaper.”

Widaa added that the newspaper will not stop nor falsify the facts and publish them. “The security apparatus is acting above the law. The government is the one that is making the current news but wants to prevent publication about it.”

[This is the crucial point: the very regime policies that have led to the protests are now the focus of press censorship and repression in the streets—ER]

Objective reporting

Majid El Goni, the editor-in-chief of the independent daily El Jareeda, said that the security apparatus did not provide an explanation when officers confiscated the print-runs from the printing press on Monday. “The newspaper’s dealing with the protests rejecting the new budget could be the reason for the confiscation.” In the past days El Jareeda had also dealt with protests in El Gezira, Darfur and Sennar states, however, “not only did the leaders of the opposition talk about the budget, but also the leaders of the National Congress Party did.

“Every day the red lines set by the security service for the Sudanese press are gaining territory, preventing any publication on a news subject.”

[And this is the other crucial point: as demonstrations accelerate, so censorship and security repression in the streets will only become more intense—something has to give. So far the regime gives no signs of backing away from its catastrophic 2018 budget, in part because it simply can’t: the economy has been too fully destroyed and there are no means of revival at hand—ER]