bashir.jpgBarely a month after South Sudan’s secession, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has announced that he will introduce economic austerity measures.

Most of Sudan’s oil lay in the south and the two countries have not agreed how to divide future oil revenues.

The president told MPs that a three-year “emergency programme” would include issuing a new currency.

He also promised a more open society where people would be free to express political views without fear of arrest.

“Our relations with the newly born state of South Sudan will be based on respect of covenants and serious commitment to consolidate stability.

“Our government is keen not to curb freedom of speech. No-one from today will be arrested for expressing his political views,” the president said in his speech to parliament in the capital, Khartoum.

 

Consultations on a new constitution – a key opposition demand – would also begin soon, he said.

It would be an inclusive process involving opposition politicians, religious leaders and university professors and the new constitution would be put to a referendum.

Last December, President Bashir said a new constitution would make Islam the only religion in Sudan and Sharia the only law.
According to some media reports, Sudan has been hit by a scarcity of foreign currency and high inflation.

“We have placed an emergency programme for the next three years,” Mr Bashir said in his nationally televised speech.

A new budget with no new taxes is to be put before parliament.

“The package of the economic measures includes issuing a new currency in the coming days,” he said.

South Sudan announced it was launching its own currency and the South Sudan pound note would be in circulation by next Monday.

The new country’s Central Bank Governor Elijah Malok told reporters it would take three months to completely replace the northern currency.

The two countries have still to decide on issues such as drawing up the new border and how to divide Sudan’s debts and oil wealth.
At present, the revenues are still shared equally.

Although most oil lies in the south, most of the oil pipelines flow north to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.