Tale of Two Protests

The governments of Sudan and Zimbabwe have been unable to quell weeks of civil protests which have left dozens killed in both countries. 

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst unrest since 1995 with rioting in Harare and most major cities. Inflation has soared to over 40 per cent, sharply reducing the buying power of urban poor. There are shortages of essential supplies like petrol and bread. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa seized power in 2017, overthrowing long-standing ruler Robert Mugabe. But he has been unable to turn around the economy and increasingly uses the army to maintain his political position. 

The protests spiked in mid-January when the government announced sharp increases in gasoline and diesel prices. Labour unions called for national strikes that spiralled into nationwide protests. Another round of strikes has been called for in the coming week. The protests attracted worldwide attention when Harare shutdown the country’s internet for several days in a bid to control the spread of protests. 

Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir saw the Khartoum street turn against him when he announced a sharp increase in bread prices last month. 

Al Bashir, who came to power in an Islamicist coup in 1989, has been struggling with increased economic problems despite the lifting of US sanctions in October. Khartoum admits 30 people have been killed so far. In the past, Al Bashir has been able to depend on cash infusions from Persian Gulf states like Qatar. It is not clear if he will receive similar assistance this time. 

https://mg.co.za/article/2019-01-18-00-vicious-crackdown-in-zimbabwe

https://qz.com/africa/1528663/zimbabwe-intnerent-shutdown-leads-to-vpn-use/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=africa-weekly-brief

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-14/world-s-highest-gasoline-price-prompts-zimbabwe-national-strike

https://www.voanews.com/a/sudan-police-deploy-in-large-numbers-ahead-of-fresh-protests/4750849.html

https://ewn.co.za/2019/01/26/sudan-s-bashir-to-visit-egypt-as-protesters-call-for-more-demonstrations

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/sudan-protests-spread-death-toll-rises-29-190124185709313.html

 

January 29, 2019

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About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhury

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta Aspen Centre

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri writes on political, security, and economic issues. He previously wrote for the Statesman and the Telegraph in Calcutta. He served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Indian government from 2011-2015. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the Asia Society Global Council, the Aspen Institute Italia, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Mont Pelerin Society. Pramit is also a senior associate of Rhodium Group, New York City, advisor to the Bower Group Asia in India, a member of the Council on Emerging Markets, Washington, DC, and a delegate for the Confederation of Indian Industry-Aspen Strategy Group Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue and the Ananta Aspen Strategic Dialogues with Japan, China and Israel. Born in 1964, he has visited over fifty countries on five continents. Mr. Pal Chaudhuri is a history graduate from Cornell University.