World Bulletin/News Desk
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has defended recent austerity measures, slamming the recent protests triggered by the move as a bid by "traitors" to topple his regime.
"The Sudanese people responded to the traitors who wanted to bring down the regime," al-Bashir told thousands of supporters on Wednesday in southeastern Al-Qadarif State.
"Traitors, agents and bandits tried to bring down the regime with the support of a hostile media," he told cheering crowds.
Sudan has been rocked by mass protests since a government decision last month lifting state subsidies on fuel and other vital commodities as part of a controversial economic reform program. The government has also raised taxes on a number of consumer goods.
The move sent retail prices for hydrocarbons and consumer commodities skyrocketing, instantly triggering mass protests.
While activists say more than 100 people have been killed so far in protest-related violence, Sudanese authorities put the death toll at 70, including several policemen.
The Sudanese leader on Wednesday reiterated his support for government's new austerity measures, stressing that the government would not reverse the decision.
Al-Bashir's Wednesday address was his second appearance since the unrest began. Last week, at a military graduation ceremony, he defended the austerity measures, saying they had been necessary to avert "economic collapse."
He also admitted that the secession of oil-rich South Sudan in 2011 had had a negative impact on Sudan's national economy.Last Mod: 09 Ekim 2013, 14:27