Sudan opposition politician Kamel Omar arrested

President Omar al-Bashir addressing parliament on 12 July 2011
Image caption President Omar al-Bashir has come under pressure because of the poor state of the economy

A prominent Sudanese opposition politician has been arrested, amid growing unrest over economic hardship.

Kamel Omar was taken from his home by unknown men who showed no warrant, a spokesman of his party said.

A government official said he was held for alleged links to Darfur rebels, as well as to the recent protests.

Sudan's economy has been struggling since newly-independent South Sudan halted oil production following a dispute over oil revenues.

The demonstrations were started by students three weeks ago in response to the high prices and government austerity measures, but many of the protesters are now calling for the government to resign.

In the latest unrest, police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of protesting students in Khartoum on Sunday.

Until the recent protests began, Sudan had escaped the kind of unrest affecting other countries in other countries in the Arabic-speaking world.

The BBC's James Copnall, in Khartoum, says the opposition is hoping to benefit from the demonstrations, and that Mr Omar's party, the Popular Congress Party, has been particularly critical of the government.

Troubled economy

South Sudan gained independence a year ago after decades of civil war, taking the bulk of the former united Sudan's oil reserves with it. However, the export pipelines still run through Sudan.

In January, South Sudan shut down its entire oil production of 350,000 barrels a day after Sudan started seizing southern oil to compensate for what it called unpaid transit fees.

The move cut government income in Sudan, prompting Khartoum to impose spending cuts.

Earlier this year, the two states came close to all-out war over the disputed oil-rich border area of Heglig.

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