Sudan reviewing austerity measures

July 3, 2012 at 9:53 AM

KHARTOUM, Sudan, July 3 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Khartoum are still reviewing proposed budget cuts that sparked mass protests across the country, a national leader said.

Student protests erupted in mid-June after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced a series of budget cuts. Friday's demonstrations were dubbed elbow-licking protests after a presidential aide said ousting the leader was like trying to lick one's elbow.

Sudanese National Assembly speaker Ahmad Ibrahim al-Tahir said lawmakers were still studying the proposals before sending them on to members of Parliament, the independent Sudan Tribune reports.

Sudan's economy was hurt by South Sudan's independence last year. Sudan, as part of the deal, maintained authority over export routes while South Sudan took control over most of the regional oil fields. South Sudan in January halted oil production to protest Khartoum.

Nafie Ali Nafie, an aide to the Sudanese president, said demonstrators were trying to "eradicate" Islamic law in the country. Protesters, he added, were on the side of pro-Israeli groups in the United States who were seeking to destabilize Sudan.

U.S. officials had expressed concern about Khartoum's response to the demonstrations, saying the use of force was no way to address national economic concerns.

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