Khartoum - Hundreds of passengers at Khartoum airport and the Sudanese capital’s main bus terminal were stranded Tuesday as protesters began a two-day national strike to pile pressure on the military to hand power to a civilian administration.
Leaders of an umbrella protest movement remain at loggerheads with army generals, who seized power after ousting president Omar Al Bashir last month, over who should lead a new governing body - a civilian or a soldier.
The new governing body is expected to install a transitional civilian government, which in turn would prepare for the first post-Al Bashir elections after a three-year interim period.
In a bid to step up pressure on the ruling military council, the Alliance for Freedom and Change protest movement has called for a two-day general strike starting on Tuesday.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded at Khartoum airport as scores of employees at the facility went on strike, chanting “civilian rule, civilian rule,” an AFP correspondent there said.
Many employees carried banners or wore badges that read “We are on strike”.
Sudanese airlines Badr, Tarco and Nova suspended flights on Tuesday, although some international flights were still scheduled.
Passengers were also stranded at Khartoum’s main bus terminal as hundreds of employees observed the strike.
Many carried banners reading: “Today, tomorrow no buses as we are on strike”.
“I have to travel to Gadaref to be with my family for Eid, but I’m not angry as I understand the reason for the strike,” traveller Fatima Omar said as she waited with her children at the bus terminal.
- ‘Still no breakthrough’
Protest leader Siddiq Farukh told AFP that the strike was a message to the world that Sudanese people “don’t want the power to be with the military”.
Another prominent protester, Wajdi Saleh, told reporters late Monday that there was “still no breakthrough” in negotiations but the protest movement was ready to negotiate if the generals offered fresh talks.
“We hope that we reach an agreement with the military council and won’t have to go on an indefinite strike,” he said.
Protest leaders had said medics, lawyers, prosecutors, employees in the electricity and water sectors, public transport, railways, telecommunication and civil aviation were set to take part in the strike.
They said actions in the telecoms and aviation sectors would not affect operations.
But the protest movement’s plan has been dealt a blow after a key member, the National Umma Party, said it opposed the plan as there had been no unanimous decision for a strike.
Umma and its chief Sadiq Al Mahdi have for decades been the main opponents of Al Bashir’s iron-fisted rule, and threw their weight behind the protest movement after nationwide demonstrations erupted in December.
Al Mahdi’s elected government was toppled by Al Bashir in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.