Dozens of Sudanese demonstrators have been arrested and beaten by police and security agents after they took to the streets of the capital Khartoum to protest price hikes, especially for bread, the Sudan Tribune reported.

Tuesday’s protests followed a request last week by the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) for permission to organise a peaceful march to the governor’s office to hand over a memo against the rising cost of bread prices. The request was denied.

The SCP and other opposition parties , activists and civil society organisations defied the denial, calling on the masses to gather near the presidential palace in central Khartoum to march to the state’s headquarters.

Riot police and security agents cordoned off the streets in an attempt to block the protesters, but hundreds of demonstrators still flooded the streets near the presidential palace and broke through the barrier, chanting slogans against the price increases.

Clashes subsequently erupted, with security forces using tear gas and batons and arresting dozens of protesters.

Bakeries doubled the price of bread from 50 cents to 1 Sudanese pound (ZAR 1.77) at the beginning of January after the government increased the price of flour from 167 pounds to 450 pounds (ZAR 794.33).

The price rises are part of tough economic measures contained in 2018’s budget which also saw the lifting of electricity subsidies as well as increasing the US dollar exchange rate to 18.00 pounds from the official rate of 6.7 pounds.

Anti-austerity demonstrations in Khartoum in 2013 resulted in a brutal crackdown which left nearly 200 protesters dead, according to human rights groups.

The government conceded that 86 people had been killed in the largely peaceful marches.

- African News Agency (ANA)