World Bank halts Sudanese activities to injure coup leaders, calls for strike backed by Reuters


Reuters. On October 25, 2021, a protester waved a flag as the Ministry of Information called a military coup in Khartoum, Sudan a military coup. REUTERS / Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah


Written by Khalid Abdelajiz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – The World Bank cut off funding for operations in Sudan on Wednesday in response to the military’s seizure of power from an interim government, as state oil company workers, doctors and pilots opposed joining civilian groups.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets since Monday’s coup led by Armed Forces Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and several have been killed in clashes with security forces.

Burhan dismissed a joint civilian-military council set up to lead the country to democratic elections after ousting dictator Omar al-Bashir in a popular coup in April 2019.

He said he had worked to stop the country from falling into civil war, but the decision to stop funding the World Bank and stop processing new activities was a blow to his plans for one of Africa’s poorest countries.

After being isolated from the international financial system during Bashir’s three-decade rule, Sudan fully re-engaged with the bank in March and gained access to $ 2 billion in financing.

In a statement from Washington, World Bank President David Malpas said, “I am deeply concerned about recent developments in Sudan, and I fear that this could have a dramatic impact on the country’s social and economic recovery and development.”

The prime minister of the ousted transitional government, Abdallah Hamdock, described the reappointment of the World Bank as a major achievement and relied on funding for several major development projects.

The government introduced drastic economic reforms that quickly succeeded in securing arrears and debt relief and obtaining new funding from the World Bank and the IMF.

An IMF spokesman said the fund was monitoring developments but was “premature” to comment.

Million March

There were sporadic protests in Khartoum on Wednesday and intensified throughout the night across the capital, although no new bloodshed was reported.

In a Khartoum neighborhood, a Reuters journalist saw civilians in civilian clothes and armed men removing barricades erected by protesters. Hundreds of meters away, the youths set up barricades again a few minutes later.

“We want civilian rule. We will not get tired,” said one.

Outside on the other side of the river, eyewitnesses told Reuters that protesters were met with tear gas and gunshots on Wednesday evening as protesters marched across three cities in the capital.

Protesters in the northeastern city of Atbara marched and chanted slogans, “Stop military rule.”

Neighboring committees have announced plans for the protests, which they said would be a “march of millions” on Saturday.

Workers at the state oil company Sudapet have said they are joining a lawlessness campaign to support a stagnant democratic transition.

The pilots of the national carrier Sudan Airways have gone on strike, their union said, the pilots of local carrier Badr and Tarko Airlines. Central bank workers have also stopped working at further risk to the functioning of the economy.

Doctors from the Unified Doctors Office Group of Unions are also on strike. Doctors were one of the driving forces behind the revolt that toppled Bashir.

Power-sharing between the military and civilians has been increasingly tense over a number of issues, including whether Bashir and others will be sent to the International Criminal Court, where they are accused of atrocities in Darfur. The military commanders who are now leading Sudan have also served in Darfur.

Speaking at his first press conference on Tuesday after the announcement of the acquisition, Burhan said the military had no choice but to side with politicians who he said were inciting the people against the armed forces.

UN special envoy Volker Parthes met with Burhan on Wednesday and told him that the UN wanted to return to the transition process and see the immediate release of all detainees, UN spokesman Stephen Dujarric told reporters in New York.

Parthes also met Hamdock at his residence, where he is on guard, Dujarric said. Hamdok was arrested on Monday.

EU Commissioner for External Relations Joseph Borel wrote on Twitter (NYSE 🙂 that he had spoken to Hamdock and expressed support for a civilian-led change.

Serious risk

The events in Sudan, Africa’s third-largest country – reflect the events in other Arab states that have tightened their grip since the military coup.

Willow Berries, a Sudanese expert at Newcastle University, said the presence of resistance committees in many neighborhoods would make it difficult for Burhan and the military to suppress street protests against the acquisition.

“My biggest fear is that he can only rely on legitimacy – he will fall further behind on violence. This is a very serious risk,” Berries said.

Burhan has close ties with states that work to contain the effects of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising and bring back Islamist influence, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

While Western nations have condemned the occupation of Sudan – which has a history of military coups – the Arab states have called on all parties to exercise restraint.

Burhan met with Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Khartoum, Ali bin Hassan Jafar, on Wednesday to discuss efforts to resolve the situation through dialogue “among all relevant parties,” the Sudanese Armed Forces Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 page said.

Burhan also took the lead in Sudan’s move to normalize relations with Israel.

Sharon Bar-Lee, the deputy foreign director-general for Africa at Israel’s foreign ministry, said Tuesday it was too early to say whether Sudan’s development would lead to normalization.

The African Union has said it has suspended Sudan’s participation in all activities until civilian-led authorities are restored.

“Right now, since the army is in power now, they have blocked the way and taken us back to Square One, but that doesn’t work for us,” said Mohammed Ali, a Sudanese national.

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