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Civil Disobedience Spreads Across Sudan

Protestors gather in front of the Sudanese embassy in Washington to protest increased electricity costs that have sparked a national disobedience campaign in Sudan. (VOA/ N. Taha)

Outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, about 100 Sudanese American protestors this week chanted, "long live the struggle of the Sudanese people," and "down with Bashir."

President Omar al-Bashir's administration recently lifted subsidies on fuel and gas and increased electricity prices to try to curb inflation, but now hundreds of thousands of Sudanese cannot afford basic necessities.

Activist Duha Elmardi stands in solidarity with the Sudanese people, who are demanding political change in their country.

"The Sudanese people have seen since 1989 we [have] gone through years and years of rape and torture," Elmardi said. "And I think now people are ready to voice out. People are ready for change."

Elmardi said the civil disobedience organized by frustrated Sudanese youth has been a success through the use of social media websites Facebook and Twitter.

"We are really fed up! So what happened that the prices of fuel increased and of course the price of everything has increased. And then to top it off, the price of medicine increased in massive percentage," Elmardi added. "We have seen cases of people who committed suicide because they are not able to afford medicine."

The increases are hurting, even killing, Sudan's poor according to Khalid Tigani, a founding member of the Sudanese National Movement for Change.

"Sudan has been in the same economic crisis since the independence of South Sudan in 2011," Tigani said. "So the government every time raised prices of the goods/commodities to solve these problems. But according to the World Bank, almost half of the people in Sudan are under poverty so they cannot afford increasing prices."

On Sunday, the first day of the civil disobedience, many neighborhoods across Khartoum and other cities were quiet. Few pedestrians were seen outside.

Most of the opposition parties, including the Uma Party and rebel movements like SPLM-North, have declared their support for the civil disobedience campaign, and called on members to get behind the movement.

More than 20 activists in different Sudanese cities have been arrested since the civil disobedience began on Sunday. Authorities shut down two daily newspapers and a television station in Khartoum.

President Bashir has been in power for 27 years and is wanted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court for allegedly committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan's Darfur region.