Sudan will not retreat on its decision to increase fuel prices despite days of deadly protests and criticism within the ruling party, the information minister said on Sunday.
“No, it is not possible at all. This is the only way out,” Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman told Agence France Presse in a telephone interview.
The protests were sparked by the scrapping of fuel subsidies that have turned into an expression of anti-government sentiment.
Authorities say 33 people have died over the past week but opposition source and international human rights groups say at least 50 people have been killed since the unrest began on Thursday.
Bilal told AFP that authorities had to intervene when crowds turned violent.
“This is not (a) demonstration,” he was quoted as saying. “They attacked the gas stations. They burned about 21.”
The information minister said the government knew “riots” would occur if the cost of fuel went up but the reduction of subsidies on petroleum will save billions of dollars.
“Our economy cannot tolerate such support,” he said. “We have to carry on. We know it is a bit heavy for the people.”
Unrest escalated after the death of more than 50 protesters, with the government shutting down internet connection and several local media outlets.
Sudan’s largest newspaper al-Intibaha which has been a regular critic of the government decision to cut fuel subsidies has been shut on Sunday.
The Sudanese government ordered the closure of Al Arabiya television’s office in Khartoum on Friday, hours after it had summoned the channel’s correspondent for question.
The correspondent was later released but the channel’s office remained closed.