(Adds protests, details, background)
By Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM, March 21 (Reuters) - Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir banned hoarding of the Sudanese pound and “speculation” on the currency, a presidency statement said on Thursday, as anti-government protesters again clashed with security forces in several cities.
Bashir has faced three months of persistent protests calling on him to step down, amid an economic crisis that has seen people queueing at ATMs and has caused sharp price rises.
Police fired tear gas on Thursday at hundreds of anti-government protesters in Omdurman, across the Nile from the capital Khartoum, witnesses said. Police also used batons to disperse protesters in El-Obeid, capital of North Kordofan state, where hundreds demonstrated.
Tear gas was used on dozens more in the south of Khartoum, where police chased demonstrators through side streets, and on Sitteen Street in the east of the capital, witnesses said.
Under the new rules announced by Bashir’s office, individuals are not allowed to store more than 1 million Sudanese pounds ($21,000) outside the banking system.
Entities are banned from storing more than 5 million Sudanese pounds and are not allowed to store amounts “that are not commensurate with the scale of (their) activity”, the statement said.
Bashir’s order, made in an emergency decree, also banned the counterfeiting of any currencies, as well as the possession, transportation or storage of counterfeit currencies and any tools used to produce counterfeit currencies.
It further banned all providers of goods and services from accepting payments via bank cards or cheques.
Any violators of the decree, in addition to punishments in any other breached laws, would face a minimum of six months in prison and a maximum of 10 years, as well as a fine.
$1 = 47.4500 Sudanese pounds Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz Writing by Yousef Saba Editing by Gareth Jones