Sudan’s annual inflation has hit a new record peak as prices of bread and other staples keep surging, according to official figures.
The country's Central Agency for Statistics said on Tuesday that the annual inflation in September rose to 212.29% from 166.83% in August. The high record was driven by hikes in prices of bread and vegetables, and the jump in transportation fares, it said.
Inflation has been rising in Sudan since before the military’s overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 amid a popular uprising. The economy has suffered from decades of U.S. sanctions and mismanagement under al-Bashir who had ruled the country since the 1989 Islamist-backed military coup.
The transitional government is struggling to revive the economy amid a huge budget deficit and widespread shortages of essential goods, including fuel, bread and medicine.
Sudan has close to $60 billion in foreign debt, and debt relief and access to foreign loans are widely seen as its gateway to economic recovery. But access to foreign loans is linked to the removal of sanctions related to the country’s listing by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terror. President Donald Trump's administration has linked the removal from the list to normalizing relations with Israel, an issue that has divided the county's fragile interim government.
The International Monetary Fund last month signed off on the government’s economic reform program, which could eventually allow Sudan to get debt relief and move ahead with rebuilding the battered economy. The reform program includes a gradual lifting of energy subsidies, which eat up 36% of the government’s budget.
The national currency has plunged dramatically. The Sudanese pound has been selling for more than 250 to the dollar on the black market, with the official rate remaining at 57 Sudanese pounds to $1.
The coronavirus pandemic and recent seasonal flash floods have added to the calamity. Authorities in September declared an economic emergency, said the country was a natural disaster area and imposed a three-month state of emergency.
Meanwhile, tensions escalated in the country's east Wednesday, following Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s decision to fire Saleh Ammar, the newly appointed governor of Kassala province. In neighboring Red Sea province, authorities imposed 16-hour curfews in the cities of Port Sudan and Suakin, after angry protesters blocked major roads, according to the official SUNA news agency.
Ammar warned security forces not to use violence against the protesters on Wednesday, a day after he was fired, less than three months after his July appointment. Earlier, he was barred from entering Kassala by protesters, who opposed his appointment on tribal grounds.