Sudanese man ‘sets himself ablaze’

KHARTOUM — A 25-year-old Sudanese man was being treated in hospital for second-degree burns, medics said on Saturday, in the latest instance of self-immolation in the Arab world.

Al-Amin Musa Al-Amin, a labourer from Darfur, poured petrol over himself shortly after Friday prayers and lit it as he stood in Suq al-Shaabi, a market in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, eye-witnesses told AFP.

They could not speculate on the man’s motive.

The man was rushed to Omdurman hospital’s intensive care unit, medical officials said.

The Sudanese Media Centre, which is close to the country’s intelligence services, had earlier quoted one of Musa’s relative as saying he had been drunk when he torched himself.

But the hospital medics said there was no trace of alcohol in his body.

Several young men in Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania have set themselves ablaze since the signature protest of a Tunisian graduate whose action in December triggered a revolt that ousted Tunisia’s veteran president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Widespread economic and political discontent in north Sudan, where the security forces exert tight control, has led to sporadic protests in recent weeks.

Police and students clashed for two days in Gezira, a large swathe of land south of Khartoum, in student protests against the tough austerity measures the government pushed through on January 5 in response to escalating import costs.

On Wednesday, armed police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of Sudanese activists demonstrating for the release of Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi, who was detained 48 hours earlier after calling for a Tunisia-style uprising.

North Sudan’s economic woes — skyrocketting food prices, weak state finances and large external debts — have been exacerbated by political uncertainty, linked to last week’s landmark referendum on independence for the south, where most of the country’s oil is pumped from.

The final results of the plebiscite are set to deliver a landslide vote for separation.

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