Crack in opposition as top Sudan group rejects call for strike

Sudanese protesters gather for a sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum on May 19, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 27 May 2019
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Crack in opposition as top Sudan group rejects call for strike

  • We reject the general strike announced by some opposition groups, says NUP
  • The NUP led by former premier Sadiq Al-Mahdi said any such decision should be taken by a council of leaders of the protest movement

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s main opposition group and supporter of the protest movement on Sunday rejected its call to stage a two-day general strike in the first sign of a rift within the movement negotiating the launch of civilian rule.

Talks between leaders of the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change and army generals who seized power after ousting Omar Al-Bashir last month are deadlocked over who should lead a new governing body -— a civilian or soldier.

In a bid to step up pressure on the generals, the protest movement has called for a general strike starting Tuesday, but the National Umma Party (NUP), a key backer of the movement, rejected the measure.

“We reject the general strike announced by some opposition groups” in the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the NUP said in a statement.

“A general strike is a weapon that should be used after it is agreed upon by everybody,” NUP said.

“We have to avoid such escalated measures that are not fully agreed.”

The NUP led by former premier Sadiq Al-Mahdi said any such decision should be taken by a council of leaders of the protest movement.

Such a council was still not in place and “will be composed in a meeting on Monday,” it said.

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Talks between the generals and protest leaders remain deadlocked over who should lead a new governing body to oversee the formation of a civilian administration — a soldier or civilian.

It was Al-Mahdi’s elected government that Bashir, who himself was deposed on April 11, toppled in a coup in 1989.

In a recent interview with AFP, Al-Mahdi warned protesters not to “provoke” the army’s rulers as they had been instrumental in ousting Bashir. Minutes after NUP’s statement, another key member of the protest movement, the Sudanese Congress Party, said the strike will go ahead as planned.

It said the strike was a new measure “to complete the mission of the revolution, which definitely will achieve its victory.”

The military toppled Bashir after months-long protests across Sudan led by the Alliance against his rule of three decades. Thousands of demonstrators remain camped outside the army headquarters in central Khartoum demanding that the generals step down.

Talks between the generals and protest leaders remain deadlocked over who should lead a new governing body to oversee the formation of a civilian administration — a soldier or civilian.

Protest leaders insist a civilian must head a new sovereign council and that civilians should make up the majority of its members, proposals rejected by the ruling generals.

The new ruling body when finalised is expected to install a transitional civilian government for three years after which the first post-Bashir election would be held.

Before suspending talks last Monday, the two sides had agreed on several key issues, including the three-year transition period and the creation of a 300-member parliament, with two thirds of lawmakers coming from the protesters’ umbrella group.


Iraqi PM faces protests over power shortages and graft

A handout photo released by Iraq's Prime Minister's Media Office on January 20, 2019 shows Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi (C) during his trip to the southern city of Basra. (AFP)
Updated 28 min 28 sec ago
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Iraqi PM faces protests over power shortages and graft

  • Security services in Basra were on high alert on Sunday after the circulation of an image of a leaflet with the slogan of Daesh on it calling for support for the protests

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s exclusion from US sanctions on Iran and allowing it to import gas and electricity will not ease the pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s government, Iraqi politicians and officials told Arab News on Sunday.
Mass demonstrations are planned for later this week in the Shiite-dominated southern provinces to protest about the lack of basic daily services including electricity and drinking water, high rates of unemployment and corruption in ministries and government departments, activists told Arab News.
Iranian energy and natural gas imports amount to about 4,000 megawatts per day, equivalent to 20 percent of Iraq’s total production.
The US three-month extension waiver allowing Iraq to import Iranian gas and electricity is expected to dampen some of the anger and give Abdul Mahdi’s government a chance to find more radical solutions to the electricity shortage caused by terrorist actions, lack of planning and government corruption over the past 15-16 years.
People in Basra plan to take to the streets on July 20, activists told Arab News.
“Unemployment, scarcity of electricity and potable water and corruption are all still in place and none have been addressed despite the fact we have been protesting every year,” Sheikh Raied Al-Fraijai, the head of Basra tribal council and one of the Basra’s key activists, told Arab News.
“We will demand the dismissal of Abdul Mahdi and his government,” he said.
Electricity supply from the national grid does not exceed a 12-hour-a-day average during the summer, when temperatures exceed 50 degrees Celsius. This is one of the most powerful engines of the demonstrations, which usually turn violent and lead to clashes between protesters and security forces.
Last summer demonstrations extended to most of the southern provinces and Baghdad. There were massive riots, especially in Basra and Amara, where government and party headquarters were set on fire, as well as the Iranian Consulate. At least 22 demonstrators and security personal were killed.
Controlling the demonstrations and preventing Iraqi political forces from exploiting them is one of the challenges facing both local governments and activists.
Security services in Basra were on high alert on Sunday after the circulation of an image of a leaflet with the slogan of Daesh on it calling for support for the protests and inciting demonstrators to attack members of the “Savage army,” a term used by Daesh to describe the Iraqi army.
“This game (the circulation of the leaflet) aims to give the necessary cover for the local government in Basra to target us,” an activist told Arab News.
“Now they (local officials) have a good pretext to come after us. They can easily say that we are belong to Daesh or just say these are aimed to provide the cover for sabotage and targeting security forces.”