The World Bank has suspended operations in Sudan following the military coup

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.

Pro-democracy protesters use fires to block streets to condemn a takeover by military officials in Khartoum, Sudan, 25 October, 2021.

Pro-democracy protesters use fires to block streets to condemn a takeover by military officials in Khartoum, Sudan, 25 October, 2021. Source: AP via AAP

The World Bank halted disbursements for operations in Sudan on Wednesday in response to the military's seizure of power from a transitional government, while state oil company workers, doctors and pilots joined civilian groups opposing the takeover.

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.

Mr Burhan has dismissed the joint civilian-military council set up to steer the country to democratic elections following the overthrow of autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising in April 2019.

He said he acted to stop the country slipping into civil war, but the World Bank decision to pause payments and stop processing new operations is a setback to his plans for one of Africa's poorest countries.

After isolation from the international financing system across three decades of Mr Bashir's rule, Sudan achieved full re-engagement with the bank in March and gained access to $2.6 billion ($US 2 billion) in financing.

"I am greatly concerned by recent events in Sudan, and I fear the dramatic impact this can have on the country’s social and economic recovery and development," World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement from Washington.

Abdalla Hamdok, prime minister in the deposed transitional government, had touted World Bank re-engagement as a major accomplishment and was depending on the funding for several large development projects.

The government had instituted harsh economic reforms that succeeded in achieving rapid arrears clearance and debt relief and renewed financing from the World Bank and IMF. 

An IMF spokeswoman said the fund was monitoring developments but it was "premature" to comment.

'March of millions'

Scattered protests took place in Khartoum on Wednesday and intensified at night across the capital, although no new bloodshed was reported.

In one Khartoum neighbourhood, a Reuters journalist saw soldiers and armed people in civilian clothes removing barricades erected by protesters. A few hundred metres away, youths built barricades again minutes later.

"We want civilian rule. We won't get tired," one said.

In Bahri across the river, witnesses told Reuters protesters were met with tear gas and heard gunshots on Wednesday evening as protesters came out across the capital's three cities.

In the northeastern city of Atbara, protesters marched and chanted, "Down with the military regime".

Neighbourhood committees announced plans for protests leading to what they said would be a "march of millions" on Saturday.

Workers at state oil company Sudapet said they were joining the civil disobedience campaign to back the stalled democratic transition.

Pilots from national carrier Sudan Airways have gone on strike, their union said, as have pilots from local carriers Badr and Tarco Airlines. Central Bank employees have also stopped work in a further setback for the functioning of the economy. 

Doctors belonging to the Unified Doctors' Office group of unions also said they were striking. The doctors were one of the driving forces behind the uprising that brought down Mr Bashir.

Power-sharing between the military and civilians had been increasingly strained over several issues, including whether to send Mr Bashir and others to the International Criminal Court, where they are wanted for alleged atrocities in Darfur. Military commanders now leading Sudan also served in Darfur.

Speaking on Tuesday at his first news conference since announcing the takeover, Mr Burhan said the army had no choice but to sideline politicians who he said were inciting people against the armed forces.

UN Special Representative Volker Perthes met Mr Burhan on Wednesday and told him the United Nations wants to see a return to the transition process and the immediate release of all those arbitrarily detained, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

Perthes also met Mr Hamdok at his residence, where he remains under guard, Mr Dujarric said. Mr Hamdok was detained on Monday.

The European Union's Foreign Relations Commissioner Josep Borrell wrote on Twitter that he had spoken with Mr Hamdok and expressed support for a civilian-led transition.


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Published 28 October 2021 at 6:55am
Source: Reuters - SBS