By Daniel N’Doh Nadjitan
May 13, 2019, 3:19 PM GMT+1
Power outages, food and cooking-gas shortages plague Chadians
President Idriss Deby is longtime ally of Omar al-Bashir
Chad scrapped import taxes on staple foods to quell growing anger about rising food prices, a month after protests in neighboring Sudan over high costs of living forced President Omar al-Bashir to step down.
The decision comes amid regular, days-long power outages in the capital, N’Djamena, and after almost four months of an acute cooking-gas shortage that forced the poorest residents to use cow dung as fuel. Last year, civil servants went on strike for weeks to protest a range of austerity measures President Idriss Deby said were needed to get a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
The government has exempted rice, flour, cooking oil and dates from any levies or import duties as of May 10, according to a joint decree by the finance and other ministries. The measure will stay in place for an initial six months, according to comments Deby made on state TV.
Sudan’s army ousted Al-Bashir on April 11 following four months of mass protests that were triggered by high inflation and severe food shortages. A longtime ally of Al-Bashir, Deby met with Sudan’s leader just days before he was forced to quit office.
Landlocked Chad, which hosts thousands of Sudanese who fled the Darfur crisis in the early 2000s, was hurt by a sharp drop in international oil prices and has been struggling with the fallout from conflicts in Libya and Central African Republic, and Islamist militancy in Nigeria.