Sudan deported three members of a rebel movement detained last week in the wake of a deadly raid on a protest sit-into South Sudan, an official in the movement said.
The three are members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), one of the country’s main rebel groups and part of an alliance pushing for a handover to civilian rule after the military deposed President Omar al-Bashir in April.
The deportations came with many shops and businesses in Khartoum shut on the second day of a campaign of strikes and civil disobedience aimed at putting pressure on the Transitional Military Council to relinquish power.
The council toppled and arrested Bashir, before entering negotiations on a transition towards elections with the Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) alliance, which includes the SPLM-N.
Talks collapsed last week when security forces stormed a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry that was the focal point of Sudan’s protest movement for nearly two months.
Yasir Arman, the most prominent of the three men released and the deputy head of the SPLM-N, was detained after returning from exile following Bashir’s ousting.
The others, SPLM-N secretary-general Ismail Jallab and spokesman Mubarak Ardol, were arrested after meeting visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as he tried to mediate between the military council and civilian opposition.
An SPLM-N official who declined to be named said the three were put on a flight to Juba, South Sudan’s capital, following their release in Khartoum.
The SPLM-N splintered from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement that fought Khartoum for South Sudan’s independence, achieved in 2011. It is now seeking more autonomy for the southern Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Opposition doctors say at least 118 people have been killed since the raid on the sit-in a week ago. The military council confirmed 61 deaths, including three members of the security services.
SUDAN’S TURMOIL OF CONCERN TO WIDER REGION
Stability in Sudan is crucial for a volatile region struggling against Islamist insurgencies from the Horn of Africa to Egypt and Libya. Various powers, including Russia and the Gulf Arab states, are trying to influence its path.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have close ties with the military council, are watching developments with concern and support a renewal of dialogue.
Since last week’s crackdown, the DFCF tried to sustain the protest movement through a civil disobedience campaign that largely shut down Khartoum on Sunday.
On Monday, there was little movement on the streets and some shops reopened, including in Khartoum’s central market, but many stores and businesses remained closed.
“We are against killing civilians and support the (DFCF) but today I returned to work because I earn my income day by day and I am the only source of income for my family and my children,” said Saleh Yaqoub, a 53-year-old shopkeeper.
The strikes disrupted transport services and flights at Khartoum airport. Gulf Air cancelled flights between Bahrain and Khartoum until June 15 because of the political situation.