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Broad support for civil strike in Sudan, US warns of violence

The Mek Nimir road in downtown Khartoum on Sunday morning 27 November 2016, the first day of a three-day civil strike against the government policies in Sudan  (Maram El Amin)
The Mek Nimir road in downtown Khartoum on Sunday morning 27 November 2016, the first day of a three-day civil strike against the government policies in Sudan (Maram El Amin)

With the approach of the civil strike scheduled for tomorrow, President Omar Al Bashir urged the Sudanese not to respond to the calls of “the useless opposition forces”. Sudanese opposition groups have expressed their full support for the disobedience action. The US government has expressed its concern about the “threatening rhetoric” against the activists.

While activist groups all over the country are calling on the Sudanese to join the civil strike on Monday in protest against the government policies and the latest austerity measures, President Al Bashir scorned them and the opposition in a speech at a rally in El Gezira on Friday.

He said that his government is immune to civil disobedience actions and “keyboard activists”, and accused the opposition of “enjoying their time in hotels abroad, celebrating their birthdays, and playing tennis as they like”, in reference to the chairman of the National Umma Party, El Sadig El Mahdi, who is currently in exile in Cairo.

Broad support

Youth groups, writers, journalists, actors, artists, musicians, singers, and members of the Women's Union, political parties, and armed movements have all expressed their solidarity with the civil disobedience action planned on Monday.

The Musicians and Singers Association announced that they support the Sudanese people “in their rebellion against the regime that has impoverished the Sudanese and handcuffed their freedoms”.

Writers and journalists groups called for the restoration of freedoms in the country. They pointed to “this brutal regime that has monopolised power, and destroyed the country’s resources and productive sectors for the sake of their private interests”.

In El Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan, activists covered the walls of houses and shops on the main roads with slogans urging the people to join the civil disobedience action on Monday.

Several activists in Babanusa in West Kordofan State have called on the people “to participate effectively” in the civil disobedience action. They said the people are fed up with the continuing price hikes and the corruption in the country.

In Zalingei and Ed Daein, the capitals of Central and East Darfur, calls for the disobedience action were posted on the walls at markets and other public places. A youth activist told this station from Ed Daein that they will continue their campaign for the civil strike in spite of policemen removing their posters.

In North Darfur, an activists group issued a statement calling for a peaceful strike “in order to change the political and economic situation in Sudan”.

The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) stated that the movement has intensified its contacts with the various political opposition forces, youth and other activists groups, civil society members, and the European Union to support the coordination for the civil strike on Monday.

Peaceful protest

One of the organisers of the disobedience actions told Radio Dabanga that the deterioration of the living conditions in the country has prompted the people to adhere to the civil strike approach “which has confirmed its efficiency and effectiveness during our first action on 27-29 November”.

He urged the Sudanese “not to listen to the threats by the government and to stay at home all day tomorrow in a peaceful protest against the regime’s disastrous policies”.

The Future Forces for Change (a coalition of rightist opposition parties) have warned the authorities of using force against the striking people, and pointed to their right to demonstrate. “Experiences in the past have proven that oppression always leads to failure. It exacerbates the problems until they become completely insolvable.”

Threatening rhetoric’

The US government expressed its concerns about “the Government of Sudan’s threatening rhetoric and the crackdown on Sudanese media in response to calls by Sudanese civil society for civil disobedience” in a statement on Friday.

“If protests do occur, we urge the Government to respond to protesters with restraint, and encourage Sudanese authorities to take all necessary steps to allow citizens to exercise their right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we encourage those exercising their fundamental rights to express their views to do so peacefully.

“We also reiterate concerns expressed in US Embassy Khartoum’s December 6 statement about the detention, apparently without charge, of a number of opposition political leaders and human rights advocates. We again urge Sudanese authorities to stop seizing newspapers and engaging in other forms of censorship of those who report on, or express, political views,” Mark Toner, the deputy spokesman for the US Department of State, said in the statement.

The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced the statement on Saturday, saying that it “lacks accuracy and objectivity.”

FA spokesman Gariballah El Khidir noted that the Sudanese Constitution guarantees freedom of association, publication, and expression. “The Sudanese people presented a unique model [by participating in] the comprehensive National Dialogue and peaceful reformation process,” he said.

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