3m Sudan strikes bring country to standstill

Activist Protesters will keep using peaceful tactics

On Monday most shops in the capital were closed on what was the second day of a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience called by the opposition.

Vehicles loaded with machine guns of the Rapid Support Forces - paramilitaries accused by witnesses and protesters to have been largely behind the crackdown - patrolled several districts of the city. They have orders from the... Travel agencies were hit hard due to the internet blackout on Monday. We are not doing any global flight bookings.

But protesters who have campaigned for the civil disobedience say the agitation has been successful so far.

"This shows clearly what we can do, and also in a peaceful way", said Ishraga Mohamed.

Sources in the Egyptian foreign ministry told The New Arab's Arabic-language service on Monday that Cairo was prepared to supply the "necessary manpower" to the military council. "We will continue with it until our goal is achieved", she told AFP.

Multiple rounds of talks between the generals and protest leaders have broken down over whether a planned transitional body would be headed by a civilian or a military figure.

The crackdown by the military came after negotiations between protest leaders and the generals collapsed late last month over who should lead the new governing body - a civilian or a soldier.

The generals took power after ousting longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir on April 11 after months-long protests against his iron-fisted, three-decade rule.

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Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have close ties with the military council, have said they are watching developments with concern and support a renewal of dialogue.

The top USA diplomat to Africa is heading to Sudan in an attempt to negotiate between the ruling generals and protest leaders and to call for an end to violence and intimidation by paramilitaries loyal to the junta.

Tibor Nagy, the assistant secretary for African affairs, "will call for a cessation of attacks against civilians and urge parties to work toward creating an enabling environment. for talks to resume", the department said in a statement.

The military claimed that the protesters were escalating Sudan's political crisis and doing major harm to the country and its security by calling the strike.

"We are appealing to those who blocked the roads to open them for all the sick people. since many people lost their lives because they can not reach the hospital", senior health ministry official Mohamed Altom told reporters during a tour organised by the ministry.

The individuals arrested would face justice as soon as possible, the statement said, without specifying their number, rank or what charges they would face.

Late Monday the military council said several members of regular security forces had been arrested in connection with the killings, state media reported, adding that the council said those arrested would face justice.

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