Internet cuts in Sudan complicate civil disobedience campaign against the coup

Demonstrators wave a banner and national flags as they march against the Sudanese army’s recent seizure of power and overthrow of the civilian government, in the streets of the capital, Khartoum, Sudan, October 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Noureddine/File Photo

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  • Activists launch two days of civil disobedience
  • It is hampered by internet and cell phone outages
  • Eyewitnesses using tear gas in several locations
  • The military commander meets the delegation of the Arab League
  • Major rebel leaders reject the coup

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese pro-democracy groups launched a two-day civil disobedience and strikes on Sunday to protest last month’s military coup, although participation appears to be limited due to a cut in internet and phone access.

In a sign that the coup could undermine efforts to end decades of internal conflict, armed rebel factions that signed a peace deal last year, rejected the coup and called for an end to the state of emergency.

The commander of the powerful Rapid Support Forces, the second-in-command in the Sudanese army, came out in support of the takeover in a midnight speech on Facebook.

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Major General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, Deputy of the Burhan in the dissolved Sovereignty Council, said that Major General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s moves came to “correct the course of the popular revolution and preserve the country’s security and stability.”

Local resistance committees and the Sudanese Professionals Association, which led demonstrations in the uprising that toppled leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019, are organizing a campaign of protests and roadblocks in an attempt to reverse the military coup.

Residents said people took to the streets on Sunday in the center of the capital, Khartoum, even though traffic was less than usual.

The teachers’ union said that security forces used tear gas at the Ministry of Education building in Khartoum state to disperse a sit-in organized to oppose any handover of military personnel. It added that about 87 people were arrested.

Witnesses said that the police used tear gas in several areas in eastern Khartoum, across the river in the Omdurman area of ​​Omdurman. They said that on one of Khartoum’s main streets, security forces in civilian clothes were seen alongside the police.

Witnesses said that protests also broke out in the cities of Madani, Nyala and Atbara, where hundreds protested against the reappointment of Bashir loyalists to the local government.

Internet disruption

Some hospitals and medical staff in Khartoum were working normally, while others were on strike.

“A number of people did not know about the call for civil disobedience because the internet was cut off,” 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 acquisition, but shops, roads and some banks have since reopened.

The coup halted the power-sharing arrangement between the military and civilians that had been agreed upon after Bashir was overthrown and was supposed to lead to democratic elections by late 2023.

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

Mediation efforts involving the United Nations sought to release detainees and return to power-sharing, but sources from the ousted government say these efforts have faltered. Read more

Since al-Bashir’s overthrow, Sudan has emerged from decades of isolation and internal wars. The peace agreement signed last year with rebel groups was intended to end many of those long-running conflicts.

The Sudanese Revolutionary Front, which said it rejected the coup, includes rebel groups led by three men who had sat in a civilian military ruling council that was dissolved during the takeover, namely Al-Hadi Idris and Al-Taher Hajar from Darfur and Malik Agar from the south of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. .

Two other major rebel groups that did not sign the peace deal rejected the coup. Some of the signatories to the peace agreement, including Darfur rebel group leader Jibril Ibrahim and Minni Minawi, allied with the military in the weeks before the coup.

And she said in a statement, that a delegation from the Arab League met, on Sunday, with Hamdok and Al-Burhan, and they stressed the importance of dialogue in order to return to the civil-military partnership.

Activists calling for a military exit policy 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 suspended economic aid to Sudan and said tens of billions of dollars in foreign debt relief are at risk unless there is a return to a democratic transition.

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(Reporting: Khaled Abdel Aziz and Nafisa Al-Taher. Written by Aidan Lewis. Editing by Gareth Jones, Peter Graf and Peter Cooney

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