KHARTOUM: Today, Wednesday, the World Bank stopped disbursing any funds for all operations in Sudan after the army seized power from a transitional government, while state oil company workers, doctors and pilots joined civilian groups opposing the coup.
Thousands have taken to the streets since the coup led on Monday by the commander of the armed forces, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and a number of them were killed in clashes with security forces.
Al-Burhan dismissed the civilian-military joint council, which was established to steer the country towards democratic elections following the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising in April 2019.
On Tuesday, Al-Burhan defended the army’s control of power and said it had removed the government to avoid a civil war. But the World Bank’s decision to stop payments and stop dealing with any new operations is a setback for Al-Burhan’s plans in one of the poorest countries on the African continent.
The World Bank’s decision to stop payments and stop dealing with any new operations is a setback for Al-Burhan’s plans in one of the poorest countries in the African continent
Sudan, after being isolated from the global financial system for three decades of Bashir’s rule, was able to restore full dealings with the bank in March, and obtained from it two billion dollars in financing.
“I am deeply concerned by the recent events in Sudan and fear the severe impact this could have on the country’s recovery and development, socially and economically,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement from Washington.
“We hope that peace and the credibility of the transitional process will be restored, so that Sudan can resume the path of economic development and occupy its rightful place in the global financial community,” he added.
Abdullah Hamdok, Prime Minister in the transitional government that was dissolved by the army, described returning to deal with the World Bank as a great achievement and was dependent on funding from it to implement many major development projects.
The government implemented harsh economic reforms that succeeded in rapidly reducing the payments owed by Sudan, reducing the debt burden, and renewing funding from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Sporadic protests took place in Khartoum today, Wednesday, and there were no reports of casualties or deaths.
In one district of Khartoum, soldiers and armed individuals in civilian clothes were seen removing barricades erected by protesters.
A few hundred meters away, young men came out to erect barricades again a few minutes later. One said, “We want civilian rule. We will not die.”
In the northeastern city of Atbara, protesters organized a rally and chanted the fall of the military regime.
A group of neighborhood committees in Khartoum announced a plan to set up more barricades and organize protests, culminating on Saturday in a “million march.”
Today, Wednesday, workers of the state oil company Sudapet and doctors in Sudan announced that they will join the protest movement against the military coup that disrupted the country’s transition to democratic rule.
Pilots of Sudan Airways, the national carrier, also went on strike, according to the union representing them, and pilots of two local carriers also went on strike.
Central Bank employees stopped working in a new setback for economic activities in the country.
Doctors also announced that they would participate in the strike. The Unified Office of Doctors, made up of different unions, said doctors would start a general strike across Sudan, following an earlier promise to strike in the event of a coup.
The power-sharing between the army and civilians has come under growing pressure over files including the extradition of Bashir and others to the International Criminal Court to face accusations of atrocities in Darfur. The military leaders who now rule Sudan also served in Darfur.
On Tuesday, in his first press conference since the coup, Al-Burhan said that the army had no choice but to move to neutralize the politicians who he said were turning the people against the armed forces. He added that the army’s move is not a coup.
Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was returned to his home under heavy security, after he had been detained at Al-Burhan’s home since Monday.
The events taking place in Sudan, the third largest African country, reflect what happened in other Arab countries in which the military institutions tightened their grip on the situation in the wake of the uprisings.
Willow Berridge, an expert on Sudan at Newcastle University, said it would be difficult for Al-Burhan and the army to suppress the popular crowds scattered in the streets to oppose the coup because of the presence of resistance committees in many neighborhoods.
“My biggest fear is that it will be based more on the only legitimacy he can count on, which is violence,” she added. This is very dangerous.”
Al-Burhan has close relations with the countries that worked to limit the influence of Islamists and contain the repercussions of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Al-Burhan has close relations with the countries that worked to limit the influence of Islamists and contain the repercussions of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt
Although Western countries condemned the military coup, those Arab countries called on all parties to show restraint.
Al-Burhan was also at the fore in the steps taken by Khartoum to normalize relations with Israel.
Sharon Bar Lee, deputy director general for Africa affairs at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, told Israel Radio on Tuesday that it was too early to tell whether developments in Sudan would have consequences for normalization.
The African Union said in a statement on Tuesday that it had suspended Sudan’s participation in all activities until the return of civilian-led authority.
Sudanese citizen Muhammad Ali said, “At the moment, because the army is in power now, it has stopped the path and brought us back to square one, but this is not acceptable to us.”