After Sudan’s military crackdown last week, protesters turn to civil disobedience to continue pressure for a shift to civilian government.
Rabat – After Sudanese military forces shot demonstrators on Monday, June 3, in an attempt to break up a longstanding sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital, opposition groups have urged supporters to take part in a civil disobedience campaign.
These attacks marked a turning point in the standoff between protesters and the military which had previously been tense but remained peaceful.
Starting yesterday, June 9, opposition groups told supporters to stay home, changing their tactics to civil disobedience while continuing to pressure the transitional military council (TMC) to step aside for a civilian-led government.
“The civil disobedience movement will begin on Sunday and end only when a civilian government announces itself in power on state television,” said the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), responsible for organizing many of the recent demonstrations.
A change in the Capital’s environment followed the change in opposition tactics. For weeks, protesters have filled the streets of Khartoum – now much of public transportation is not operating and most commercial banks, private companies, and markets are closed, though some state banks and public utility offices remain open.
Since the civil disobedience campaign began yesterday, paramilitary groups have killed at least four people in efforts to suppress it, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors (CCSD).
After last Monday’s crackdown, talks between the TMC and the opposition fell apart.
Opposition leaders’ calls for civil disobedience came after Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was accepted as a mediator, met with representatives from both sides on Friday, June 7.
In accepting Ahmed’s mediation, the protesters demanded the TMC take responsibility for Monday’s attack and begin an internal investigation into the violence.
The TMC said the actions of military and Rapid Support Forces, blamed for the attack, were “restoring life back to normal,” and that protesters broke the law by creating barricades in roads.
After meeting with Ahmed, three leading members of the opposition were arrested, complicating the possibility of negotiating a solution.
Ethiopia is in a unique position to mediate conflict because of its previous neutrality in the issue and significant political influence in the AU, which has suspended Sudan’s membership until a civilian government is in place.
Sudanese civilians first took to the streets to protest rising costs of bread and fuel last December. They later called for the end of Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule, al-Bashir was then replaced by the TMC April 11.