“We will not go back to work until the (Sudanese Professionals) Association announces the end of the strike,” a protester said.
A campaign of civil disobedience to demand civilian rule left the streets of Sudan’s capital Khartoum largely deserted as the working week began Sunday, while police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Khartoum North, witnesses said.
They also started the general strike to protest the arrest of three movement leaders who participated in the negotiations with the military authorities.
Opposition and protest groups had called for workers to stay at home after security forces stormed a protest camp Monday, killing dozens and dealing a blow to hopes of a peaceful transition after ex-President Omar al-Bashir’s removal in April.
Since the ousting of long-time President Omar Al-Bashir in April, Sudan has been governed by the army-led TMC, many of whose members were a part of Bashir's ousting. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) had been talking with the council to negotiate when elections would be held until this week. The two sides had agreed elections would be held within three years, but the SPA wanted a civilian council to take over during the transition. The TMC insisted it would continue to rule during the interim and responded to the continued sit-ins by firing at protesters Monday.
The raid came after weeks of wrangling between the military council that took over from Bashir and the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF), an opposition alliance, over who should steer a transition leading to elections.
On Sunday morning few pedestrians or vehicles could be seen in the capital’s streets. Public transport was barely functioning and most commercial banks, private companies, and markets were shut.
Some state banks and public utility offices were working normally.
“We will not go back to work until the (Sudanese Professionals) Association announces the end of the strike,” said Ahmad Noor, a 46-year-old employee at a private foodstuffs company. The SPA, which spearheaded the anti-Bashir protests, is part of the DFCF.
“Sudan must be governed by a civilian government,” Noor said.
At Khartoum airport where very few flights were operating, travelers crowded the departure hall. Most travel agencies were closed because of an internet outage, and ticket prices soared.
In Khartoum North, across the Blue Nile from the center of the capital, police fired tear gas to scatter protesters. There were no reports of casualties.
Demonstrators have been trying to barricade roads in the capital over recent days as a way of sustaining the protest movement.
Also Sunday, a well-known Sudanese banking expert rejected his appointment by the TMC as deputy governor of the central bank, he said.
Mohamed Ahmed Bushra turned down the job “because the current conditions the country is going through and the failure to form a transitional civilian government make it difficult for the central bank to arrange policies to address the economic crisis,” he told Reuters.
Opposition medics said that 20-year-old Ayman Osama died Sunday after he was shot in the chest at a road barricade in Omdurman, across the Nile from central Khartoum.
That brought the opposition’s death toll to 118 in the storming of the camp outside Khartoum’s Defence Ministry and subsequent security crackdown. The government has put last week’s death toll at 61, including three members of the security services.