Sudan declares state of economic emergency due to fall of currency

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KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan declared an economic state of emergency on Thursday after its currency fell sharply in recent weeks due to “systematic vandalism,” officials said.

The transitional government, in charge of the country since the ouster of Omar al-Bashir last year, will set up special courts in the next days to fight smuggling and other illicit activities undermining the economy, officials told a televised news conference.

The pound had fluctuated drastically in recent days, prompting major food suppliers to halt distribution of their products and pushing prices of food up between 50% and 100% at supermarkets and retailers, a Reuters witness said.

It comes at a time of record Nile River flooding that has left tens of thousands of people homeless. The government said it had allocated more than 150 million Sudanese pounds ($2.73 million) to help flood victims, the state news agency reported.

The government under Bashir had previously tried to crack down on the black-market traders by arresting some of them, but others remained persistent. The currency has been devalued four times since 2018.

Inflation in Sudan is second only to that of Venezuela, with the headline rate climbing to 143.78% in July from 136.36% in June.

Security forces would also step up controls at borders and airports to stop a smuggling of commodities such as gold, officials said.

Reporting by Nadine Awadalla, Ulf Laessing, Nafisa Eltahir and Omar Fahmy; Editing by Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney

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