Sudan opposition calls general strike in protest at deadly military crackdown

Demonstrators demand military council hand over power to civilians

Peter Stubley
Sunday 09 June 2019 21:57
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Civilians rushed into hospitals as Sudanese forces violently clear sit-in

Opposition groups in Sudan staged a general strike in protest at the crackdown by security forces which left more than 100 people dead.

The campaign of civil disobedience left the streets of the country’s capital Khartoum almost deserted on Sunday, the first day of the working week.

Most commercial banks, private companies and markets were shut, public transport was limited, and the main airport was left deserted, according to witnesses.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which called for the strike, are demanding that the military to hand over power to civilians following the removal of former president Omar al-Bashir in April.

Ahmad al-Noor, a 46-year-old employee at a private foodstuffs company, was one of those backing the action. ”We will not go back to work until the Association announces the end of the strike,” he said. ”Sudan must be governed by a civilian government.”

SPA activist Dura Gambo claimed that participation in the general strike “exceeded our expectations.”

“All private and some government banks joined the strike. Cities across the country are almost empty,” she said.

Some protesters still took to the streets in Khartoum North before being dispersed with tear gas by security forces who fired shots into the air.

A 20 year-old man was shot dead in the city of Omdurman, on the opposite side of the Nile from Khartoum, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors.

Since the removal of Sudan’s former strongman, the military and protest leaders have been negotiating the make-up of a transitional council meant to run the country for three years before elections.

However earlier this week Sudan’s ruling military council cancelled all agreements and announced it would unilaterally form an interim government and hold elections within just nine months.

Negotiations completely collapsed following the deadly raids on the protest camp outside the military headquarters in Khartoum on 3 June.

Opposition medics put the death toll at 118 while the government claimed it was 61, including three members of the security services.

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Witnesses claim the raid was led by the Rapid Support Forces, which is commanded by the deputy head of the military council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

On Sunday military council spokesman Shams El Din Kabbashi played down the effect of the campaign of disobedience but said they were willing to restart negotiations with the opposition.

“We regret this escalation in these blessed days and in this delicate circumstance our country is going through,” Mr Kabbashi told Sky News Arabia.

“Life is running well in the capital Khartoum and in the states,” he added. “Life has not been affected much by the disobedience declared today.”

Additional reporting by Reuters and AP

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