World Bank Freezes Aid To Sudan Over Coup As Civil Disobedience Rises

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

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

Burhan has removed the joint civil-military council created to lead the country to democratic elections following the overthrow of the autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising in April 2019.

He said he acted to prevent the country from entering a civil war, but the World Bank’s decision to halt payments and stop processing new operations is a setback to his plans for one of the poorest countries in Africa.

After being isolated from the international financing system for three decades by the Bashir government, Sudan achieved a full commitment to the bank in March and gained access to $ 2 billion in financing.

“I am very concerned about the recent events in Sudan, and I fear the dramatic impact this may have on the recovery and the social and economic development of the country,” World Bank President David Malpass said in a statement from Washington.

Abdalla Hamdok, prime minister of the deposed transitional government, had touted the reincorporation of the World Bank as a major achievement and relied on funding for several large development projects.

The government had instituted tough economic reforms that managed to achieve rapid settlement of arrears 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.

Hamdok, who was arrested on Monday and is under surveillance at his home, was in good health when envoys from France, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, the mission of the UN in Sudan. he said on Twitter Wednesday. The West has called for the restoration of the council and the release of civilian leaders.

لتقى سفراء @FranceauSoudan, @GermanyinSudan, @NorwayAmbSudan, @GilesLeverUK, @USCDASudan, @EU_Sudan and SRSG @volkerperthes @SudanPMHamdok في مقر إقامته. سرّهم أنّه بصحة جيدة. نستمر ّ بالدعوة إلى الاستعادة الكاملة لحريته.

– United Nations Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (@UNITAMS) October 27, 2021

Hamdok says any retreat from the path to democracy threatens stability and development in Sudan and warns against using violence against protesters, a source close to him said.

Late on Wednesday, Sudan’s state television reported that Burhan had relieved six Sudanese ambassadors from their posts, apparently because they rejected the military takeover. All six were sent to the United States, the European Union, China, Qatar, France and the head of mission in Geneva.

‘March of millions’ planned

Scattered protests took place in Khartoum on Wednesday and escalated overnight across the capital, although no further bloodshed was reported.

In a Khartoum neighborhood, a Reuters journalist saw soldiers and armed people in civilian clothes removing barricades set up by protesters. A few hundred meters away, the youths again erected barricades minutes later.

“We want a civil government. We will not get tired, ”said one.

In Bahri, across the river, witnesses told Reuters protesters were met with tear gas and heard gunshots Wednesday night as protesters streamed through the capital’s three cities.

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

Neighborhood committees announced plans for protests that would lead 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 support the stalled democratic transition and pilots of the national airline Sudan Airways went on strike, as did pilots of Badr and Tarco Airlines. .

Sudan’s armed forces fired Ibrahim Adlan, head of the county’s civil aviation authority, industry sources said.

The employees of the Central Bank have also stopped working on a new setback for the functioning of the economy.

Doctors belonging to the Unified Office of Physicians union group also said they were on strike. Doctors were one of the driving forces behind the uprising that toppled Bashir.

The power-sharing between the military and civilians has been increasingly strained over a number of issues, including the possibility of sending Bashir and others to the International Criminal Court, where they are wanted for alleged atrocities in Darfur. The military commanders who now run Sudan also served in Darfur.

In his first press conference since announcing the inauguration, Burhan said Tuesday that the military had no choice but to sideline politicians who he said were inciting people against the armed forces.

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

A joint statement by the US, the EU, the UK and other nations emphasized their continued recognition of the “prime minister and his cabinet as the constitutional leaders of the transitional government.”

The UN Security Council, however, struggled on Wednesday to agree a joint statement on the Sudan crisis. Russia opposed a strong condemnation of the military takeover, according to diplomats.

Russia’s deputy representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, said negotiations are continuing and described the matter as “very sensitive.”

Serious risk

The events in Sudan, Africa’s third-largest country, mirror those in several other Arab states where the military has tightened its grip after the uprisings.

Willow Berridge, a Sudan expert at Newcastle University, said it would be difficult for Burhan and the army to suppress street protests against the seizure of power due to the presence of resistance committees in many neighborhoods.

“My biggest fear is that it will back down even further in the only legitimacy it can depend on: violence. It’s a very serious risk, ”Berridge said.

Burhan has close ties with states that worked to roll back Islamist influence and contain the impact of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

( Jowhar with REUTERS and AFP)