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IMF: Sudan must further cut fuel subsidies

Associated Press Modified: November 6, 2012 at 10:31 am •  Published: November 6, 2012

Aid groups say many Sudanese were already struggling to get by.

"A family still spends the same amount for their monthly groceries, but this money now buys them less than 20 percent of the items they could purchase before this economic crunch," said Sahar Ali, Oxfam's Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan. "Many people are having only one meal a day."

Philippe de Pontet, Africa Director at the London-based Eurasia Group, said that assessing the "real vulnerability or fragility" of Sudan's economy is difficult given the lack of transparency about the government's foreign reserves, as well as an overall lack of "credible economic statistics" on Sudan.

He said that given the economic shock the Sudanese government faced after losing its oil revenue last year, Khartoum has "shown resilience" and benefited from the "bit of a cushion" provided by its new austerity measures.

De Pontet questioned whether further cuts in fuel subsides would be possible, given the unpopularity of the first round.

Despite the dire economic situation, al-Bashir has maintained his grip on power while brutally stifling dissent and battling large pockets of armed rebellion throughout the country. Sudanese forces are battling rebels along the southern border.

Rights groups say abuses against activists and opposition members continue in the capital.

The New York-based rights group Committee to Protect Journalists reported Monday that a Sudanese journalist who has written reports critical of al-Bashir's government was found alive on a roadside in Khartoum last Friday after she disappeared late last month.

Somaya Ibrahim Ismail Hundosa, who lives in Egypt but was visiting relatives in Khartoum for a Muslim holiday, told local reporters that she was tortured and had her head shaved after she was abducted near her family's home by intelligence officers.

"This attack shows the dangers that journalists in Sudan continue to face if they dare criticize the government," said the Committee to Protect Journalists Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. The group said in a statement that she "is now recovering at home with her family."