Internet cuts in Sudan complicate civil disobedience campaign against coup

Protesters carry banners and national flags as they march against the recent takeover by the Sudanese army and the ouster of the civilian government, on the streets of the capital Khartoum, Sudan, Oct. 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin/File Photo

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  • Activists launch two days of civil disobedience
  • Hampered by interference internet, mobile phones
  • Police use tear gas witnesses at multiple locations
  • Military chief meets Arab League delegation
  • Major rebel leaders reject coup d’état

KHARTOUM, Nov 7 (Reuters) – Sudanese pro-democracy groups began two days of civil disobedience and strikes on Sunday in protest of last month’s military coup, although participation appeared to be curtailed by interruptions to internet and telephone connections.

As a sign of the coup’s potential to unravel efforts to end decades of internal conflict, armed rebel groups that signed a peace accord last year rejected the coup and called for an end to the state of emergency.

The commander of the powerful Rapid Support Forces, the No. 2 man in Sudan’s army, expressed support for the takeover in a midnight speech on Facebook.

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General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s actions “came to correct the course of the popular revolution and preserve the security and stability of the country,” said General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, Burhan’s deputy in the now-dissolved Sovereign Council.

Local resistance committees and the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which led demonstrations in an uprising that toppled long-serving autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019, are organizing a campaign of protests and barricades to try to reverse the military takeover.

People were on the streets in the center of the capital Khartoum on Sunday, although there was less traffic than usual, residents said.

A teachers’ union said security forces used tear gas at the Khartoum State Education Ministry building to break up a sit-in organized to oppose any handover to military appointees. Some 87 people were arrested, it said.

In several areas in eastern Khartoum, across the river in the Ombada area of ​​Omdurman, police also used tear gas to break up protests, witnesses said. Plainclothes security forces were seen alongside police on a major street in Khartoum, they said.

There were also protests in the cities of Medani, Nyala and Atbara, where hundreds protested the re-appointment of Bashir loyalists to the local government, witnesses said.


Some hospitals and medical personnel in Khartoum were operating normally, while others were on strike.

“A number of people were not aware of the civil disobedience call because of the internet outage,” said a resident of central Khartoum, who asked not to be identified.

Internet services have been almost completely disrupted since the October 25 coup and phone coverage remains patchy. Daily life almost came to a halt after the takeover, but shops, roads and some banks have since reopened.

The coup halted a power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilians agreed after Bashir’s overthrow, which was to lead to democratic elections by the end of 2023.

Top citizens, including several ministers, were arrested and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was placed under house arrest.

Mediation efforts involving the United Nations have sought the release of prisoners and a return to power-sharing, but sources from the deposed government say those efforts have stalled. read more

Since Bashir was overthrown, Sudan has emerged from decades of isolation and internal wars. A peace accord with rebel groups signed last year was intended to end some of those long-running conflicts.

The Sudanese Revolutionary Front, which said it rejected the coup, includes rebel groups led by three men who had served on a military-civilian governing council that had been disbanded during the takeover, Elhadi Idris and Altahir Hajar of Darfur and Malik Agar of the southern SPLM. -N.

Two other major rebel groups that have not signed the peace agreement have also rejected the coup. Some signatories to the peace accord, including Darfur rebel group leaders Jibril Ibrahim and Minni Minawi, had joined the military in the weeks leading up to the coup.

On Sunday, an Arab League delegation met with Hamdok and Burhan, emphasizing the importance of dialogue to return to a civil-military partnership, it said in a statement.

Activists demanding a withdrawal from military politics have announced a schedule of protests ahead of mass rallies on Saturday, under the slogan: “No negotiation, no partnership, no compromise”.

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets against military rule in two massive demonstrations before and after the coup.

Western powers have withdrawn economic aid to Sudan and say relief of tens of billions of dollars in foreign debt is at risk unless there is a return to democratic transition.

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Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, Nafisa Eltahir; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Gareth Jones, Peter Graff and Peter Cooney

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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