Monday October 21, 2019
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Sudan: Strikers Push Military to Give Up Power

Chanting anti-government slogans, workers lined up outside the upscale al-Waha shopping center in downtown Khartoum

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Sudan, Striker, Miltary, Power
Susana Abdalla Hassan, an employee of Bank of Khartoum, holds a sign supporting the revolution while striking outside Al-Waha mall, in Khartoum, Sudan, May 28, 2019. VOA

Chanting anti-government slogans, workers lined up outside the upscale al-Waha shopping center in downtown Khartoum, demanding an end to the country’s 30-year military rule.

“Our martyrs lost their lives,” they shouted, referring to the dozens of people killed since December in Sudan’s revolution. “We can lose our jobs.”

Tuesday was the first day of a two-day nationwide strike called by opposition leaders demanding that Sudan’s military junta transfer power to a civilian government. The junta took power in April following the ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir after months of street protests.

Bashir had ruled for nearly 30 years and was accused of human rights abuses and corruption.

Sudan, Striker, Miltary, Power
An employee of mobile phone company MTN holds a flyer supporting a general strike which he hands out to potential customers before turning them away, in Khartoum, Sudan, May 28, 2019. VOA

An alliance of unions, professional organizations, and political parties called the strike. Talks between the alliance and the military council, which took power in an April coup, collapsed earlier this month after soldiers attacked peaceful demonstrators in the city, killing several and wounding hundreds.

The talks had stalled over whether civilians or generals would have control of a sovereign council meant to run the country for the next three years before elections.

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With talks deadlocked, leaders of Sudan’s protest movement said they are escalating their pressure on the military, starting with the strike.

Outside al-Waha mall, Idris Ibrahim, a teller at the Bank of Khartoum, said the Sudanese people are growing impatient.

“We want a civilian government,” he said. “The military council has had the country for almost 50 days now. We’ve had negotiations, but they don’t seem to want to give us our civilian government.”

Around the nation, workers in various sectors posted photos of themselves on social media holding signs supporting the strike, including oil workers, dentists, sugar processing employees, cement factory workers, and veterinarians.

Sudan, Striker, Miltary, Power
Staff of Sena supermarket hold signs supporting the revolution while refusing to work during a strike, in Khartoum, Sudan, May 28, 2019. VOA

Numerous international flights to Sudan were also cancelled as aviation employees threatened to strike.

The broad support for the protest was despite the rejection of the strike by of the opposition Umma Party, a member of the opposition alliance, which had raised fears of a split in the civilian movement.

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Back at al-Waha mall, Ibrahim said the upper management of his bank was totally against the strike. A few steps away, his colleague Susana Abdalla Hassan said her bosses’ stance didn’t matter to her.

“I don’t care,” she said. “Even if they fire me, it’s a small tax for the country. There are people who have lost their lives. The job is nothing.”

Inside the mall, many shops remained open, but employees supported the strike by refusing to do any work.

At a shop of the MTN mobile phone company, staff politely turned away any potential customers away at the door, handing small pieces of paper explaining their support for the strike.
Sudan, Striker, Miltary, Power
Shopping carts block the entrance to Sena supermarket whose staff are refusing to work as part of Sudan’s general strike demanding the military hand power to civilians, in Khartoum, Sudan, May 28, 2019. VOA

At the Sena supermarket, employees lined shopping carts to block shoppers from entering.

Throughout Khartoum, most businesses appeared shuttered, except for small stores selling basic necessities and petrol stations.

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On one run-down block, Siddig Ibrahim said he managed one of eight stores that normally sell clothes, watches, shoes, and other goods. All of them agreed to close.

“We ask everybody who is not striking to join the strike. It’s for the nation,” he said. “Those who aren’t striking don’t represent the majority.”

On Ibrahim’s block, only one shop – selling ties, suits, and dress shirts – remained open. The owner said he opened his store because he had not heard of the strike, but added he would close up soon because he feared crowds of striking workers that had gathered in the streets.

There were no reports of violence from protesters by late Tuesday, but members of the military council earlier vowed to fire any striking government workers.

Sudan, Striker, Miltary, Power
Siddig Ibrahim holds a V for Victory sign, a symbol of Sudan’s revolution, outside his shuttered shop during the strike while one shop next door remains open, in Khartoum, Sudan, May 28, 2019. VOA

Video circulated on social media Tuesday appeared to show uniformed security forces arresting staff of an electricity utility. Sudanese electricians had otherwise downed their tools, but said they would ensure power supply to necessary services such as hospitals.

The Sudan Professionals Association, a leading member of the opposition alliance, also accused members of the military of entering the Central Bank and attempting to force employees to work.

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SPA spokesman Amjed Fareed condemned the alleged arrests, which he described as “illegitimate” and a “clear violation of political freedom of association.”

“The military council have to see the will of the Sudanese people, and accept it, and implement its previous commitment of handing over the power to a civilian government,” he said.

Fareed added if the military does not hand power to civilians after the strike ends Wednesday, the opposition alliance will call for further civil disobedience. (VOA)

Next Story

U.N. Agencies Appealing for $20 Million to Contain Outbreak of Cholera in Sudan

Since the cholera outbreak was declared on Sept. 8 in Blue Nile and Sennar states, Sudan's Ministry of Health reports more than 230 people

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UN, Cholera, Sudan
FILE - Patients suffering from cholera receive treatment inside a tent converted into a temporary field hospital near the remote village of Dor, Sudan, April 28, 2017. VOA

U.N. agencies are appealing for $20 million to contain an outbreak of cholera in Sudan.

Since the cholera outbreak was declared on Sept. 8 in Blue Nile and Sennar states, Sudan’s Ministry of Health reports more than 230 people have become ill and eight have died.

U.N. agencies warn that more than 13,000 people could become infected in the next six months if cholera spreads to six other high-risk states.

The spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Jens Laerke, says heavy flooding has been ongoing since July and this is heightening the risk, as cholera is a water-borne disease.

UN, Cholera, Sudan
FILE – A child receives an oral cholera vaccine in a camp for internally displaced people in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Tomping, Juba, Feb. 28, 2014. VOA

“Over half of the $20 million is actually expected to go to water, sanitation and hygiene interventions,” Laerke said. “So, it is a comprehensive response. It is urgent. It is a three-month timeline. And, of course, the funding is required urgently.”

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe diarrhea. It can kill within hours if not treated quickly. In most cases, people can be cured with oral rehydration salts; severely dehydrated people require intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Laerke says aid agencies are gearing up to support and manage up to 13,000 cholera cases, and provide health services for one million people, including refugees in camps.

“Under the new plan, some 2.5 million people will benefit from water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, and hundreds of thousands of severely malnourished children, mothers and caregivers will get access to infant and child feeding counseling,” he said.

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Later this month, the World Health Organization, U.N. Children’s Fund and partners will roll out an oral cholera vaccination campaign for 1.6 million people in high-risk communities in Blue Nile and Sennar states.

Everyone above one year of age will be vaccinated. Four weeks later, the same people will receive a second dose of the vaccine. (VOA)