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What Food Price-Related Protests in Sudan and Liberia Tell Us About How Autocracies and Democracies Address Price Crises

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Cullen Hendrix

June 25, 2019

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The Weah administration may face a tradeoff between policies that will curb protests and policies that will address the needs of the most food-insecure.

As one of the world’s most talented footballers of the 1990s, Liberian President George Weah is no stranger to roaring crowds. But recently, these crowds were less than supportive: Weah’s administration has faced mass protests—and threats of more to come—due to its inability to address skyrocketing inflation and food prices.

This is at least the second time that food prices have been implicated in mass protests in the past few months. In Sudan, food prices were one of the animating forces behind the mass protests that resulted in the ouster of Omar al-Bashir in April. In both cases, the problem is seen as a symptom of broader economic mismanagement. But the policy responses—or lack thereof—are emblematic of systematic differences in the ways autocratic and democratic governments attempt to address grievances related to the classic “kitchen table” political issue.

Keywords: World Hunger