KHARTOUM - Shops were closed and streets were empty across Sudan on Sunday, the first day of a general strike called by protest leaders demanding the resignation of the ruling military council.
The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) had called on people to stay home starting Sunday, the first day of the work week, in protest at the deadly crackdown last week, when security forces violently dispersed the group’s main sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum.
The protesters say more than 100 people have been killed since the crackdown began last Monday.
The protesters hope that by bringing daily life to a halt they can force the military to hand over power to civilians. The military overthrew President Omar al-Bashir in April after four months of mass rallies but has refused demonstrators’ demands for an immediate move to civilian rule, instead pushing for a transitional power-sharing arrangement.
Troops from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been deployed in several parts of Khartoum and its sister city, Omdurman, and there are long lines of vehicles waiting to get fuel in several areas in the capital.
The internet remains cut off in Khartoum and other types of communications have also been restricted, with reports of mobile network services heavily disrupted.
Security forces removed barricades from the main roads and opened the sit-in area outside the military’s headquarters for the first time since the dispersal. The SPA urged protesters to avoid clashes with the RSF.
Protesters have accused the RSF, which grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militias used by al-Bashir in the Darfur conflict in the early 2000s, of leading the nationwide crackdown. The SPA has called for the force to be disbanded.
The Sudan Doctors’ Committee, the medical affiliate of the SPA, said at least four people were killed Sunday, including a young man who was shot dead by the RSF in Khartoum’s Bahri neighborhood. Two died of their wounds after RSF forces beat them and a fourth was shot dead in Omdurman, it said. The committee says 118 people have been killed since Monday. The military-run Health Ministry has offered a lower tally at 61 people killed across the country, including 49 civilians and three security force personnel in Khartoum.
The World Health Organization said Saturday 784 had been wounded in Khartoum since Monday. The actual number of wounded, however, could be higher as not all cases are reported or recorded, WHO said.