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Sudan police disperse demo against fuel subsidy cuts

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows people burning tires in protest against subsidy cuts in Sudan. (Photo by AP)

Police in Sudan have used tear gas to disperse demonstrators protesting against a government decision to cut fuel subsidies.

About 300 men and women demonstrated on Wednesday along a main street in the city of Omdurman near the capital, Khartoum, calling on the government to scrap the subsidy cuts, a measure they say has led to increased prices for goods.

"No, no to high prices," chanted the protesters, demanding an urgent action to stop the sharp increase in the cost of goods such as medicines.

The police arrived at the scene and fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

A separate protest was also held in the capital, where about 150 lawyers gathered in front of the high court and carried banners that read, "Say no to corruption, Say no to high prices, Say no to detentions."

People on the streets surrounding the court expressed their support for the lawyers by shouting slogans against the government. The protesters dispersed after anti-riot police arrived and began taking the banners away from them.

Journalists also held a protest in central Khartoum on Wednesday afternoon to denounce the government's increasing crackdown on newspapers that have been critical of the subsidy cuts. The journalists wore badges during the protest that read, "Journalists on strike." Some of them said they would not print their dailies until the government stops the crackdown.

"The authorities are harassing us and restricting our freedom of speech," said a protester.

The demonstrations on Wednesday came after the end of a three-day nationwide strike called by several opposition groups.

The government has been tough on any gathering in protest against the subsidy cuts as it fears a repeat of the deadly unrest that followed a previous round of subsidy cuts in 2013.

More than a dozen opposition politicians have been arrested in recent weeks, while newspapers criticizing the cuts or covering calls by the opposition for strikes have been subject to police raids.

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