Thu, Jun 13, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Strike ends in Sudan as new talks agreed


Men walk past closed shops in Khartoum, Sudan, on Tuesday, the third day of a civil disobedience campaign launched after a crackdown on a sit-in left dozens dead on Monday last week.

Photo: AFP

Protest leaders have agreed to end a campaign of civil disobedience launched after a deadly crackdown on demonstrators and to resume talks with Sudan’s ruling generals, an Ethiopian mediator said on Tuesday.

The apparent breakthrough, which the military rulers had yet to confirm, came as a top US diplomat prepared to embark on a mission to press the generals to halt the crackdown on protesters demanding civilian rule.

Sudan has been led by a military council since it on April 11 toppled former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir after months of nationwide protests against his three-decade rule.

Following al-Bashir’s removal, protesters camped outside military headquarters in Khartoum for weeks to demand civilian rule, before security and paramilitary forces dispersed them on Monday last week in a crackdown that killed dozens.

The protest movement on Sunday launched a campaign of civil disobedience and most businesses stayed closed as residents hunkered indoors.

It had threatened to pile even more pressure on the generals by releasing a list of members for a new ruling body — the key point of dispute between the two sides.

However, they agreed to end the campaign and return to talks, an envoy of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.

“The Alliance for Freedom and Change agreed to end the civil disobedience [campaign] from today,” said Mahmoud Drir, who has been mediating between the two sides since Ahmed visited Khartoum last week. “Both sides have also agreed to resume talks soon.”

The protest movement itself said in a statement that it was calling on people “to resume work from Wednesday.”

The UN Security Council called on all sides “to continue working together towards a consensual solution to the current crisis” and voiced support for African-led diplomatic efforts.

The council also called for an immediate halt to attacks against civilians and stressed the importance of upholding human rights — a week after Russia and China blocked a similar draft statement on the crisis.

In Khartoum, the protest strike saw most shops and businesses remain closed with some companies extending to the end of the week the Eid al-Fitr holidays.

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces patrolled districts in their trademark pickup trucks fitted with heavy machine guns.

“We are now getting used to living with guns as we are seeing so many of these men walking into restaurants with their weapons,” one resident said.

In the district of Bahari, a hotbed of unrest where protesters had put up roadblocks in the past few weeks, most shops were closed on Tuesday, but there were no barricades to be seen, a correspondent reported.

Demonstrators declared their nationwide shutdown a success.

“This shows clearly what we can do, and also in a peaceful way,” Ishraga Mohammed said.

Protest leaders vowed to name a ruling body to replace the generals.

“The Alliance for Freedom and Change will reveal its sovereign council and a prime minister in an announcement to be made at a suitable time,” the Sudanese Professionals Association said late on Monday.

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy plans to meet the generals and protest leaders in Khartoum, the US Department of State said.

He was to leave for the trip yesterday and also visit Addis Ababa to discuss the Sudan crisis with Ethiopian leaders and the African Union.

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