Sudan court orders end to internet shutdown

Internet access in Sudan has largely been cut since a widely condemned military coup on October 25.

Nationwide anti-coup protests have taken place since the October 25 power grab by the army File: Marwan Ali/AP Photo]

A Sudanese court has ordered the country’s main telecoms companies to restore internet access more than two weeks after it was cut following a coup by military leaders.

The Sudanese military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, seized power on October 25, dissolving the transitional administration and arresting dozens of government officials and politicians.

Since then, online access has largely been blocked and phone lines have also been intermittently disrupted. While some Sudanese users have managed to find a connection, the blackout has made it difficult for most people to communicate, particularly with those outside the country.

The day after the coup, army General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan blamed online media for “instigating sedition” but also promised that “the internet services will gradually return”.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered Zain, MTN and local provider Sudani to restore internet service immediately, according to lawyer Abdelazim Hassan, who raised a complaint on behalf of the Sudanese Consumer Protection Society.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from the capital Khartoum, said that internet services had still not returned by Tuesday afternoon.

“Those who are relying on internet from their phone data have not been able to access it since the shutdown during the early hours of October 25,” said Morgan.

She added that the Sudanese people consider the blackout a serious infringement on their rights.

Anti-coup protests

The development came as protesters continue to hold demonstrations against the coup and demand civilian rule.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), a prominent pro-democracy group that was instrumental in the protests that toppled former President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, led a two-day civil disobedience and strike campaign earlier this week and has promised to continue protesting until a civilian government is established.

Anti-coup activists have planned a “million-man march” in the capital Khartoum on Saturday to protest against the military takeover.

At least 14 demonstrators have been killed and about 300 wounded in a military crackdown, according to the independent Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors. Al-Burhan has denied that the army was responsible for the deaths of protesters.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, al-Burhan said he was committed to handing over power to a civilian government, promising not to participate in any government that comes after the transitional period.

The military has released several civilian leaders but the deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok remains in detention.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies