A key protest group has announced a nationwide “civil disobedience” campaign it said would run until Sudan’s ruling generals transfer power to a civilian government.
The call by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which first launched protests against longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir, came days after a bloody crackdown on demonstrators left dozens dead in Khartoum and crushed hopes for a swift democratic transition.
“The civil disobedience movement will begin Sunday and end only when a civilian government announces itself in power on state television,” the SPA said in a statement.
“Disobedience is a peaceful act capable of bringing to its knees the most powerful weapons arsenal in the world.”
In Khartoum all key roads and squares have been deserted since Monday’s crackdown against pro-democracy protestors left at least 113 people dead, according to doctors close to the demonstrators.
The health ministry said 61 people died nationwide in the crackdown, 52 of them by “live ammunition” in Khartoum.
Witnesses said the assault was led by the feared Rapid Support Forces (RSF), who have their origins in the notorious Janjaweed militia, accused of abuses in the Darfur conflict between 2003 and 2004.
The call for “civil disobedience” came a day after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Khartoum seeking to revive talks between the generals and protest leaders on the country’s transition.
Sudan’s military council seized power in April after ousting Bashir on the back of months-long protests against his three-decade rule.
It has resisted calls to transfer power to a civilian administration. Several rounds of talks with the demonstrators finally broke down in mid-May. In a bid to revive the negotiations, the Ethiopian premier held separate meetings with the two sides in Khartoum on Friday.
“The army, the people and political forces have to act with courage and responsibility by taking quick steps towards a democratic and consensual transitional period,” Abiy said in a statement after the meetings.
“The army has to protect the security of the country and its people and political forces have to think about the future of the country.”
But three members of an opposition delegation that met the Ethiopian premier were later arrested, their aides said Saturday.
Opposition politician Mohamed Esmat was detained Friday, while Ismail Jalab, a leader of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), was taken from his home overnight.
“A group of armed men came in vehicles at 3:00 am (0100 GMT) and took away Ismail Jalab… without giving any reason,” one of his aides, Rashid Anwar, told AFP.
He said SPLM-N spokesman Mubarak Ardol was also detained.
Esmat and Jalab are both leading members of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, an umbrella of opposition parties and some rebel groups.
The Alliance, of which the SPA is a key member, was the main organiser of mass protests since December that led to Bashir’s ouster.
On Thursday the African Union suspended Sudan’s membership, saying it deplored the loss of innocent lives in the crackdown on protestors and called for the military and security forces to ensure the full protection of civilians and respect for human rights and freedoms.