Sudan’s finance minister says the country plans to replace fuel subsidies with direct cash payments to the poor within eighteen months. This plan is one of the steps the country is taking to reshape its fragile economy after the exit of long-time dictator, Omar Al-Bashir.
Finance minister, Ibrahim Elbadawi told the associated press on Tuesday the country will gradually phase out fuel subsidies that eat up one third of the nation’s budget. He says this plan will roll in by march and will continue into next year. This year’s budget already includes subsidies.
Elbadawi is a former economist with the World Bank. More than half of the Sudan’s forty million people live in poverty. Economists say the government has to walk a fine line to ensure removal of subsidies would not cause destabilizing protests, like the ones that brought down Al-Bashir.
But they say, at the same time, the country must apply wide-ranging economic reforms to re-integrate Sudan into the international economy that would enable international lenders to do business with the nation.
Zambian Police Arrest 16 Suspects After Chemical Attacks
Zambia police said on Thursday, they have arrested 16 persons suspected of being behind a spate of attacks in which people were sprayed with poisonous substances that have caused some deaths.
The attacks began in December and were initially confined to the mineral-rich copperbelt. They have since spread to the capital Lusaka. Police are still trying to pinpoint the exact number of victims.
Last week, president Edgar Lungu ordered soldiers to join the police in patrolling the streets after the attacks, that have sparked public outrage.
Britain and the United States have issued travel alerts to their citizens following the attacks.
Lesotho PM Misses Court Date Over Wife’s Death
Lesotho’s prime minister Thomas Thabane, who was accused of killing his wife and was due in court for hearing on Friday, did not show up. Police said they were unsure of his whereabouts.
Lipolelo Thabane was shot dead in June 2017 near her home in the capital, Maseru, two days before the minister took office.
Thabane’s current wife, Maesaiah, has also been charged with ordering Lipolelo’s murder. She is currently out on bail.
The prime minister bowed to pressure and announced on Thursday he would step down in July. Both Maesaiah and Thomas Thabane, who married two months after Lipolelo’s killing, have denied any involvement in her death.
Authorities say the prime minister’s whereabouts are unknown. Some even suggest he might have fled the country.
South Sudan President, Rebel Leader Agrees To Form Unity Government
South Sudan’s former rebel leader Riek Machar said he has agreed to form a unity government with president Salva Kiir by Saturday’s deadline, following talks at state house on Thursday.
President Kiir has promised protection for opposition leaders. Machar’s allies had sought assurances for his safety should he formally return to the capital.
Kiir said the main issues which have not been resolved, such as how he and Machar would share the power, and how opposing forces will be unified, are set to be addressed and finalized in coming days.
There are expectations the deal will bring an end to South Sudan’s devastating six-year civil war, which has killed some 400,000 persons.
Before the announcement, it had been unclear if the deadline would be met as key benchmarks of the 2018 peace agreement had not been fulfilled. The deadline had elapsed several times without an agreement between the two sides.
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