Sudan's President Bashir opens major sugar factory

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir addresses Sudanese students at the Friendship Hall conference centre in Khartoum, 24 June 2012 President Bashir, who has faced protests, said there would be "no Arab Spring" in Sudan

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has opened one of Africa and the Middle East's largest sugar plants.

At the launch ceremony, Mr Bashir said he hoped the $800m (£514m) project would help turn Sudan into one of the biggest sugar exporters.

The move comes at a time of real economic difficulty for the country, following the secession of oil-rich South Sudan last year.

Rising prices have sparked a series of demonstrations in towns across Sudan.

The BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says the hope is that the White Nile Sugar Factory, which lies some 170 km (120 miles) south of Khartoum, will help Sudan satisfy its domestic demand for sugar as well as bring in valuable foreign reserves through exports.

Initial production at the plant is expected to be 250,000 tons a year, with the goal of eventually doubling this, he adds.

In his speech, Mr Bashir underlined some of the difficulties of building the plant, including those caused by sanctions imposed by the US. The opening of the plant was delayed for several years.

Mr Bashir has faced almost daily demonstrations over high prices and his 23 years in power, but on Wednesday he insisted there would be no uprising in Sudan as there has been in other Arab countries.

"We tell those who are waiting... there will be no Arab Spring in Sudan. We have a hot summer in Sudan that will burn the enemies of Sudan," he said.

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