Sudan activists announce strikes, reject power-sharing with army

Protest movement promises to continue demonstrating until a full civilian government is established to lead the transition.

Protesters demonstrate against the Sudanese military's recent seizure of power and removal of the civilian government, in the capital, Khartoum, Sudan on October 30, 2021 [Mohamed Nureldin/Reuters]

Sudan’s protest movement has announced two days of nationwide strikes, rejecting internationally backed initiatives to return to a power-sharing arrangement with the military following last month’s coup.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded a popular uprising that led to the 2019 removal of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir, said mediation initiatives which “seek a new settlement” between the military and civilian leaders would “reproduce and worsen” the country’s crisis.

The association called for strikes and civil disobedience on Sunday and Monday under the slogan of “No negotiations, no compromise, no power-sharing”, and promised to continue protesting until a civilian government is established to lead the transition towards full civilian rule.

Reporting from the capital, Khartoum, Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said on the SPA had called on civilians on Saturday evening “to set up barricades in neighbourhoods and on main streets to encourage people, and to also reduce the number of people who would go to work on Sunday and Monday”.

Pro-democracy protesters have staged large demonstrations denouncing the coup, which derailed the country’s fragile path towards democracy and was met with international outcry.

Earlier this week, Nureldin Satti, Sudan’s ambassador to the United States, told Al Jazeera’s UpFront programme that the coup “cannot continue with the mobilisation that we have seen and that we are going to see in the next days and weeks”.

The Sudanese military seized power on October 25, dissolving the transitional administration and arresting dozens of government officials and politicians.

Since the coup, the international community has accelerated mediation efforts to find a way out of the crisis, which threatens to further destabilise the already restive Horn of Africa region.

Al Jazeera’s Morgan said on Saturday that talks between the military headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) civilian component has so far failed to produce any results, despite the mediation efforts.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke separately by phone with al-Burhan, and Abdalla Hamdok, the deposed prime minister who was put under house arrest during the coup.

Blinken urged for an immediate return to a civilian-led government and the release of those detained in connection with the coup.

Sudan’s state-run SUNA news agency reported that al-Burhan promised to “complete the transition and preserve the country’s security … until reaching an elected civilian government”.

Morgan said the protesters “keep saying that they don’t want negotiations with the army”.

“The army says they are not going to return back to October 24 when there was a civilian transitional government, rather they want to look ahead and form a new government,” Morgan said.

“They say even if Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok does not lead that transitional government, they will appoint a new prime minister and appoint a new cabinet to lead the country until elections in July 2023.”

‘No efforts to show goodwill’

Meanwhile, Al-Wathig al-Berier, the secretary general of the Umma party, urged the international community on Friday to pressure the military to de-escalate.

Since the coup, the generals have continued to dismantle the transitional government and arrest pro-democracy leaders. The Umma is Sudan’s largest political party and has ministers in the now-deposed government.

“We truly need to prepare the atmosphere and de-escalate matters so that we can sit at the table,” al-Berier told The Associated Press. “But clearly, the military faction is continuing with its plan and there are no efforts to show goodwill.”

He was referring to Thursday’s arrest of leaders from the FFC, a coalition that was born out of the 2019 protest movement.

The military detained three leaders of the movement shortly after they met United Nations officials in Khartoum. The meeting was part of UN-led mediation efforts.

Blaming the military for the failure of the mediation efforts to produce results, al-Berier warned of possible bloodshed since the military and the protest movement have become increasingly entrenched in their positions.

He urged the international community to increase pressure on the military leaders to reverse the coup.

“In these initial stages, we hope that they continue strong pressure. This pressure has to be more than just tweets. This pressure needs to have mechanisms that could create real pressure on the military component,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies