Sudanese men ride camels past pyramids in the cemetary of Meroe north of Khartoum
Sudan on Tuesday battled a politically explosive bread shortage that has forced Khartoum residents to wait hours for the staple food because of a lack of foreign exchange. "If this continues, people will not keep silent," said Khalifa Hassan
, a government worker waiting with about 10 other customers at a neighbourhood bakery in North Khartoum on Monday night.
An AFP reporter saw queues of 15-20 people at Khartoum-area bakeries on Tuesday morning as well, about three days after shortages began.
An analyst said the government seems hesitant to allow a further increase in bread prices because it fears more anti-regime demonstrations after the slashing of fuel subsidies in September led to protests in which dozens died.
The price of bread, generally sold in flat, round loaves, had already gone up several days ago by roughly one-third. One Sudanese pound now buys three loaves, against four earlier.
"For the last three days I have to spend two hours a day waiting for bread, one hour in the morning and one in the evening," Hassan said.
Sudan does not grow enough wheat to fulfil its needs.
The government subsidises the rate at which wheat importers obtain hard currency to buy the grain from Canada and other countries, said Safwat Fanous, a University of Khartoum political scientist.
But the Sudanese central bank, facing a shortage of hard currency, has not been able to provide enough dollars to import sufficient quantities of grain, meaning the big mills "don't have enough wheat," Fanous said.
Sudan's economy has been plagued by inflation, a shortage of hard currency, and a weakening pound since South Sudan separated in 2011, taking with it most of Sudan's oil production.